I never heard of Trey Pennington. Apparently, the social media crowd loved him. He killed himself over the weekend. He suffered from depression.
To those that don't understand depression, it is (no pun intended) a deadly disease. I served on a non-profit board with a wonderful lawyer, loved by many, and just a great guy. He always offered to help on whatever project we were proposing, and was always glad to see you.
He hung himself one day.
Depression is not being sad, sitting at home complaining, or otherwise feeling sorry for yourself. It is a real, chemical imbalance, that can easily be hidden behind a smile and offer to help you create your dreams with a marketing plan.
There is this vicious debate raging on the internet now between those who say Mr. Pennington had "all these 'friends' on social media," so why couldn't he turn to someone for help? This is the argument being made by people who say the whole social media thing is a joke and that no one has many "real" connections - people they can actually call a "friend," against those that claim social media is the end all be all in life. The social media group - those who loved him, knew him, and say depression is a silent killer that only shows itself when it's too late - they want everyone to stop making this an argument about social media "friends."
The argument is pointless in this situation, and misses the mark.
While it's cute to argue that "hey, what about all those 'friends' on twitter, couldn't you turn to one of them," that's better left for revelations of financial desperation and other social problems. Depression transcends relationships, online or offline.
The real point of this story is something the social media rock stars will not discuss - the notion that someone's created brand on the internet is never the whole story.
Many social media rock stars have no jobs, no income, huge debt, and nothing more than a web presence and a following on twitter. You would never know that, because that's all hidden, no one asks hard questions (especially when faced with the promise of wealth and fame by someone who has neither), and it's a negative discussion which is prohibited by the happysphere on the internet who only respond to congratulations, thank yous and "you're so awesome" type compliments.
The lesson from Trey Pennington is simple - stop assuming that because someone created a web presence and says things that are attractive to you and seemingly can make your life better, that any of it is true.
It's usually not. None of it.
I extend my condolences to the family and friends of Trey Pennington, and hope that at least one of you reading this will realize that your shock is only due to your inability to face reality.
Non-anonymous comments welcome. Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.