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It was a great store: Skin Deep, on Elizabeth Street in the City of Sydney.

Colored photograph of shopfront window, with blue neon sign in capitals 'Skin Deep', suited  mannequins, framed prints of rock stars. Reflections of passing traffic in glass. Only skin deep?

From what I can ascertain at this time, the store was probably run by a tailor who was a smart operator. Fifites’ rock era fashion and bespoke suits. I indulged in the latter, as did a few stars.

One day, I picked up my lay-by – remember those? – and there he was…

Colored photograph of Michael Hutchence wearing dark sunglasses, a T-shirt , white jean jacket and blue jeans. Only skin deep?

Just recently, a friend expressed her shock on social media that an acquaintance had committed suicide. As happens, a few even closer to the departed added their experience, emotional or otherwise. The paradox of social media, I suppose: cathartic at times, infamous at others. And now, sadly, even children have taken their lives due to its influence.

Only Skin Deep – Star and Lay-by Align

I suppose it was with that in mind that I recalled being in the same store as Michael Hutchence.

Did I speak to him? No.

Did he speak to me? No.

I was not actually a fan of his, and he was obviously not a fan of mine either. In fact, the way my Rock music career was going , he didn’t have much of a chance to be.

After a hearty shake of the hand by the salesman, implying “thanks for not bothering the Star“, I was out the door with my jacket. No, I did not purchase the matching pants.

I did see Michael Hutchence once before at a small venue, but not up close as on this occasion. Funny. On the few times I have recounted this ‘glimpse’ of Michael, people were surprised that I did not try to communicate. However, in being a performer myself, though in a small way, I tended to see other performers as fellow talent.

Michael Hutchence did not look like me, sing like me, have my musical sense of interpretation or style. If it had have been a performer whom I deisred to somehow more closely emulate, then perhaps I would have tried to strike up a conversation.

Only Skin Deep – But Profound in Hindsight

The significant thing, though, was that I observed him in his prime of life.

Breathing.

Cognizant.

For better or worse, the object of great adulation.

I did not follow his career. I was only passively aware of his girlfriends from the nightly news . Then there was the furore associated with his last partner and the subsequent child.

However, when Michael took his life, it provoked a sobering reflection in me. I had had eye contact with this man, been in the small environs of the shop in his presence.

So it was that, with the more recent sad passing at his own hand of the individual known to my friend, I wondered was there a dangerous mechanism now multiplied. Not so much because of the recent loss, but rather how social media has perhaps emulated ‘big media’ as a nemesis for the common man.

During the span of his successful Rock music career, Michael Hutchence was assailed by the media. By contrast and yet in a similar way, the average person can now also experience the misleading import that somehow, a mirage of surrounding criticism can ever be worth a human life.

Yet other factors can weaken us, too. People tell me that clinical depression can render one’s sense of worth meaningless. Also, any kind of emotional bereavement can put a large ‘chink’ in our self-preservation armor.

Social media should not be a place to exhibit the worst we have to offer. There is always a point when it becomes toxic, for the famous and the unknown alike.

Image Credits

  1. Skin Deep. Sydney Emerald City Blogspot.
  2. Michael Hutchence of INXS – By Andwhatsnext, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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