If everyone was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes –Mark Twain
Avicii, a 28-year-old Swedish superstar best known for electronic dance music, was found dead on April 20, 2018. I took an unusual interest in the story of the young man and DJ, whose real name was Tim Bergling as the news broke on CNN. To be honest, I had never heard anything about him prior to his sudden demise. Moving tributes pouring from across the world dominated twitter handles and fueled my curiosity. The big question, the cause of death was unanswered. The reports said he was just found dead while holidaying in Oman. Every now and then I searched for more details. Police ruled out foul play. It wasn’t an accident; it was suicide. A sad fact which his publicist shied away from revealing. It was his devastated family that braved a veiled allusion, ‘He really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life and happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.’
Avicii didn’t hide his struggles with alcoholism which became an antidote for the natural introvert, whose Dutch courage was deployed to quell inner turmoil. The internal demons goaded him into hitting hard at the bottle. Sacrificing his pancreas and appendix to the gods of fame did not appease the fiends gnawing his inner soul, who were persistent in their unrelenting drive to a catastrophic end: Avicii took his life.
The government ban on substances containing codeine, fall out of the BBC documentary -Sweet Sweet Codeine – only reinforced our ever rising neo-colonial mentality. Just as Mungo Park ‘discovered’ the Niger River, so also did a BBC documentary ‘uncover’ the illicit codeine trade even though the First Lady had raised alarm early 2016 on the abuse of the drug among Northern women prompting the inauguration of the Youth and Women Centre in Kano. The painful reality is that accolades are reserved for the foreign media, who have the bragging right to spur our government into decisiveness.
Though a step in the right direction, the action pales in comparison to the magnitude of the social malaise threatening the posterity of our great nation. Beaming the searchlight on some manufacturing companies is treating the symptoms rather than the disease. Codeine use is a tiny fraction of the drug abuse, those who don’t sniff cocaine and heroin, find solace in cheaper alternatives – sniff petrol and kerosene, while many even engage faeces by sniffing pit latrines, a reflection of the mind boggling level of depravity and hopelessness.
The death of Avicii is a metaphor for a global problem that refutes the assertion that poverty and economic inequality are the predominant factors behind the rising cases of drug abuse among youths. Avicii had the world at his feet. In material terms, poverty was a stranger to the hit maker. Having conquered fame, the only thing the renowned DJ couldn’t subdue was indescribable ‘insecurities’ he drank alcohol to gain self-confidence.
Whether as a coping mechanism or escapism, drug abuse is a pointer to a deeper challenge – lack of self-esteem resulting in depression and in extreme cases, mental problems that climax in suicide.
Unfortunately low self-esteem is no respecter of fame, wealth or poverty judging by the number of drug related fatalities recorded among silver spoon kids in Lagos within the year alone.
Self-confidence which manifests in insecurities, anxiety and depression is symbolic of an inner struggle irrespective of social stratification.
Etiquette equips one with the necessary life skills, which helps the individual to subdue feeling of inadequacies with a capacity for a life of inner confidence.
The fast changing pace of an overly competitive world has taken its toll on the inner strength, aggressively intruding into personal privacy through the internet, forcing people to redefine self-worth as largely dependent on what people perceive of them. Alteration in appearance, name, gender and other fundamental changes are traceable to an unbridled desire to feed external expectation. Red lines are blurred into wanna be dreams fueled by social expectation to the detriment of internal well-being. King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was hastened to the great beyond in 2009 when he succumbed to the unrealistic demands of fans who pushed his final tour ‘This is It’ from 10 to a record 50 shows. Avicii caved in to demand for fame, fueling his anxieties which dragged him out of retirement.
When the inner strength is reinforced, through the prerequisite social skills, coping with the vicissitudes of life through inner courage and honesty with self.
A man who takes solace in a pit latrine has not only lost his self-worth but his purpose in life.
Etiquette solidifies inner strength which effectively acts as a concrete against external pressures.
Accept yourself, rule your world. Hold your own. Secure your destiny with people skills.