Seattle Woman Starves Herself To Death; Internet Mildly Amused
Sociologists have long speculated that our internet-based isolation – everyone sat alone behind their individual screens, posting anonymously – would lead to a reduction in empathy and sense of community.
This has been borne out in recent years by various celebrity scandals. When Charlie Sheen went into meltdown, the internet watched, and gossiped, and fully expected him to wind up dead, but nobody really seemed hell-bent on saving a man in the midst of a psychological and chemical breakdown. He was just a distraction; something to look at to pass the time.
When Britney Spears went crazy and shaved her head, there wasn’t a vast outpouring of concern for the well-being of a fellow human being (or even her kids) so much as a lot of sniggering and pointing from the public. Lindsay Lohan, when she’s not busy punching psychics, is leading a train-wreck of a life that we’re all treating as an amusing piece of water-cooler conversation. In recent years, we have all become Caligula; watching the suffering of others just to quell our boredom.
The latest distraction seems to be Navenna Shine of Seattle, who has begun recording her attempts at Breatharianism.
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For those not in touch with the crazier side of quack medicine, Breatharianism is the belief that the human body can run on nothing but air, sunlight and water.
A quick check of the millions of people who don’t have access to food worldwide, and their corresponding mortality rates, should be enough to put paid to that idea, but there are still a few hippies who insist that it’s possible to live on sunlight and positive thinking.
One of these hippies is a thoghroughly debunked guru calling herself Jasmuheen (actually an Australian woman named Ellen Greve) who has for years claimed that Breatharianism is possible, and is believed to have caused at least four deaths as a result.
Navenna Shine, a devoted follower of Jasmuheen, is convinced that she won’t be added to the death toll because of the strength of her faith in the Breatharian lifestyle.
In an attempt to prove her faith is justified, Navenna Shine has founded “Living On Light” and plans to spend the next several months in a controlled environment under constant surveillance, surviving on nothing but water, sunlight and occasional tea “to flush out the toxins.”
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According to Shine, she has already been consuming no solid food for thirty days, and her body has now reached the point where, by her own reckoning, all of her body fat has been consumed.
All that remains is to teach her body to run on sunlight, and she’ll be fine. Those of us with more than a passing familiarity with reality might spot the flaw in that plan, but Shine remains convinced that we are on the brink of “a new evolution of humanity.”
On the one hand, this is palpably stupid – the woman is obviously nuts and will probably be the victim of an almost species-wide “I told you so” when her plan fails.
On the other hand, we should really dispense with our knee-jerk derision and acknowledge that this is a mentally ill woman who is basically about to starve herself to death in front of our eyes.
Navenna Shine doesn’t appear to have family or friends to step in and try to talk sense (or cram food) into her, but shouldn’t society be intervening in some way?
Granted, it’s not a crime to be stupid or reckless. We don’t go around knocking cigarettes out of peoples’ hands, and we don’t stop people from eating at McDonald’s or participating in contact sports, despite the health risks.
It’s not even a crime to kill yourself, if you do it willfully and of your own volition.
What Navenna Shine is attempting, however, isn’t a suicide. She clearly wants to survive. What we’re witnessing is essentially a deluded mind murdering the body that houses it. If we sit idly by, laughing at her naivete and congratulating ourselves on not being stupid enough to think a body can run without food, aren’t we essentially ignoring the fact that another person is dying and none of us have done anything to help?
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Navenna Shine is clearly not mentally competent and someone should step in for the sake of her safety. Like a toddler on a high ledge, she genuinely doesn’t seem to see the danger she’s putting herself in, and that gives society a responsibility to act.
Sitting here and watching her live-stream her own starvation, laughing up our sleeves, would make us all guilty of the worst kind of cyber-eugenics.
The “experiment” continues.