Claude’s death highlights the dangers of social media to mental health

I was contemplating whether to write a response to the news that Claude of AFTV fame has passed away.

I then thought that an issue Claude always tried to spread awareness of was mental health.

Long-time readers will know it’s a topic I care a lot about and indeed have submitted articles concerned about how the world of YouTube was exploiting the man’s mental well-being.

Commonly, some comments would say I was jealous of AFTV, but it was always bigger than that, it IS bigger than that.

To those not aware of YouTube football channels, It’s a medium where content is produced for viewers entertainment. My argument is that for a very long time Claude was entertaining to watch but he wasn’t entertained himself. As admin will back me up, I posted my concerns of a human clearly distressed.

We all love our football.

But he was getting too angry about a defeat, shouting too loudly in a debate, taking it too personally.

He himself would claim that the sport was his vice, his outlet. Comforts saved my life, but if Arsenal winning or losing dictated my state of mind then I would hope someone stepped in.

Yet thousands watched every week, as he put weight on, rubbed his temple and was clearly stressed by debate.

The answer?

He was given his own weekly show where his co-host was encouraged to provoke him. That literally was the selling point of each episode, the angrier the depressed man gets the more subscribers AFTV get.

That’s not an attack on Robbie who’s a decent guy.

But Claude’s legacy should mean we reflect on the dangers of social media and how we treat each other.

Fan Channels sometimes argue that they should now be treated like the rest of the media. In reality though Claude has always been an example of why fans channels will never be mainstream media providers.

Imagine if Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were discussing Man United and Neville started swearing, rubbing his head, storming off, shouting in his peer’s face? Sky Sports would get him support.

To stress, no cause of death has been confirmed but chillingly the man’s last tweet was that he was about to join his deceased mother.

That was in response to a troll. That person behind his or her key board will have to live with that, as will anyone who has ever sent the man an unpleasant message.

Constantly he asked to be left alone.

Yet there was a contradiction to that. He was asking for a platform where he could verbally abuse managers and players, but didn’t like critique on his own performance. You can see that double standard when you’re thinking rationally, but depression is an illness where your mind is poorly.

You took a person who admitted to being lonely and suddenly put him into this world where people are watching you, Youtubers are acting like your friends, you are validated by how many likes you get.

When you have depression that can be hard, especially when you realise the Internet isn’t the real world.

Many say AFTV dumped him after his racial slur.

Again though, if you were thinking clearly you would know that Robbie in that moment isn’t your friend. He wasn’t putting you on live streams every week because out of all the 60,000 peeps at the Emirates your viewpoint was special.

He’s a businessman who had realised that your outbursts equated to more views – which generates the money.

From experience, when I say that’s exploiting someone’s mental health it’s because words cannot say how dangerous that would have been on his mind.

Imagine being on your own and suddenly everyone is laughing at you (or with you?), so they tell you to keep getting angry, that it’s entertaining, will get you out and about, invited to things …..then it’s gone.

I took part in a documentary and was asked about AFTV. I rightly predicted Claude would be encouraged to keep being explosive until one day he went too far, and sponsors stepped in. That was obvious. The more a company grows, the more advertisers you have to appease, you can’t just be a group of fans saying what you want. It was also obvious he would eventually be removed.

Unfortunately, it was equally clear for a long time that the man was struggling and needed help. Yet people carried on poking.

I have been invited on podcasts before and write on here, but it would never dawn on me to be vile to another human based on something so irrelevant as football.

What makes someone look at Claude, who you could see needed help, and decide to send a cruel message?

In the last few years that was his world, he got caught up in this social media bubble. To show you how naive that bubble is. Robbie suggested that Arsenal as a football club do something to pay tribute to him.

That shows you the bubble of social media. You took someone who had depression and made him think that his voice made any difference.

There is so much that should be learnt from Claude the Youtuber. I’m not sure it will.

It took minutes for AFTV to get taunted on various platforms showing you that lessons haven’t been learnt.

Claude the Youtuber saw this bubble as his escape although it didn’t help his health.

Claude the person would want me to say this ……we have to be better at looking after each other…

 

Dan

49 Comments

  1. Skills1000 says:

    I honestly shed tears when i heard of his death. We are a family. We all love arsenal football club. I always look forward to every arsenal match. when i open justarsenal.com, i smile because i feel the strong bond and tie that brings us together. May God console his family. We just have to be strong. not to allow football results to determine our mood and be happy always.

    1. pires says:

      I was so angry when he was removed from AFTV …..i feared for his life thinking he would commit suicide……….For “abusing”a rival player (as if it wasn’t happening every weekend from every single fan over the world)….And now they are cowardly mourning….

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Pires, in defense he was given opportunities by other YouTube friends like Lee Gunner. You never heard Claude say anything bad about Robbie Lyle and according to both, they remained friends after he left AFTV.
        From every where I have heard, Claude was a kind hearted, generous man, who although financially struggling would give someone his last penny.
        He had passionately followed the Arsenal since age 4 and going to the football was his life. Thus lock down would have affected him greatly. He was so passionate about Arsenal, it caused a marriage breakup. He lived the ups and downs of “his” football club, something Stan Kroenke would never understand.
        It is poor that people are postulating about the cause of his death; the facts will ultimately come out. Similarly it is a disgrace that people denigrate him or anyone else, with the anominity of the internet. Take out the passion and the language and he was very knowledgeable on football.
        We should all mourn a fellow football fan and from what I can see, regardless of which club they support, there have been nothing but kind words about Claude. Ian Wright was a friend and Claude commented recently about the joy of meeting and talking with Frank McLintock on one of his walks.
        RIP Claude and let us all support those doing it tough.

      2. Dan says:

        Don’t get your point Pires
        Racially.abusing someone is not okay
        And if you want to be on a public platform , you have to accept being regulated
        E.g. , if Garry Neville on sky sports said same thing he lose.job

  2. gotanidea says:

    Any fan who takes football debates seriously is a fool, but I don’t think Claude died because of that kind of depression. He must’ve been diagnosed with terminal illness, had some financial problems or some family/ relationship issues, but I don’t think someone as educated and as old as him would be depressed just because of the other football fans

    Nonetheless, I hope Claude’s family are okay and the fans can be more polite towards the others. I don’t like social media, but they can expose some people’s mentality and attitude

    1. A J says:

      With all due respect, way off the mark.

      Claude had suffered with severe mental health problems for quite some time.

      Often he would sink into bouts of depression, and at times “go missing” for periods of time.

      One of Claude’s last social media posts was telling someone that if they didn’t like his views they didn’t have to a) read them or b) respond to them.

      In the same post he also said it wouldn’t be a problem any longer anyway as he “was going to say hello to his mother” who as we know had already passed.

      Claude was not an overly educated man, as you seem to assume, and age has nothing whatsoever to do with depression and mental health issues.

      Perhaps, just perhaps, Claude DID take “football debates seriously” – Arsenal F.C. in particular WERE HIS LIFE.

      I personally would never label anyone “A Fool” (particularly someone you do not know or have absolutely no knowledge of) in the context of this very very sad thread.

      Also, being removed from AFTV more than likely had a very severe affect on Claude’s state of mind which was in part a factor of his downhill slide.

      Let me make it clear, I am not one of the politically correct brigade who leave people wondering what they can or cannot say this day and age – but I have to say GAI your comments made for me anyway, very uncomfortable reading.

      What follows is oft’ said, but here goes with sincerity;

      RIP Claude, a decent man and a true Gooner through & through.

      1. Shortboygooner says:

        Well said AJ

        Very tragic to hear Claude a fellow gooner is no longer with us.

        But I think we should be careful on pointing the finger.

        Well said AJ I don’t need to add

      2. Highbury Hero says:

        Very well said AJ. I agree completely. What might a foolish thing to one is serious to another.

        Very well said.

        1. Highbury Hero says:

          *might be

      3. gotanidea says:

        Sorry if my opinion offended you, but I just can’t believe someone with Claude’s life experience could be so depressed just because some football fans insulted him on social media. If some people here become emotional or stressed out because of some arguments on JA, I hope they realize that there’s life outside football

        1. A J says:

          Hi GAI.

          ” but I just can’t believe someone with Claude’s life experience could be so depressed just because some football fans insulted him on social media.”

          That’s the whole point.

          Claude’s situation was far more complex, and no where near as simplistic as your quote suggests.

          It’s a very dangerous path for us folk who do not fully understand what it can possibly be like to reach such a state of desperation, to in any way shape or form trivialise such an illness, and it is exactly that – a terrible illness.

          A sobering thought.

          Claude was found alone, by an AFTV friend who had allowed him to stay at flat she had access to (owned ? – whatever, doesn’t matter).

          Seems like a very lonely end.

          Makes you think, how good is it when we all come together on here.

          1. Sue says:

            It’s heartbreaking, A J.
            That’s the terrible thing about it, they may appear well, but underneath you don’t know what they’re going through.
            Really feel for his family and I hope he’s at peace now. And I hope we win on Saturday, just for him!

        2. SueP says:

          GAI I think Claude’s depression just wasn’t only about football although it may have played a part. We are not all wired the same and different people have different thresholds of anxiety and distress. It is not something that has affected me but feeling down in the dumps is not the same as wishing to end the pain

          1. gotanidea says:

            I agree with you

        3. Dan says:

          With respect , then you don’t understand mental health
          Your head plays tricks on you
          So what might not feel like a big deal when your thinking rationally ( e.g. – a troll mentions his weight ) could suddenly feel like a massive deal

          1. gotanidea says:

            That sounds scary. Maybe the feeling is similar to having dementia

          2. Dan says:

            Yeah mate seriously , I had a gf who would get anxiety about what time her train was the next day x

        4. jon fox says:

          gai, merely being older does not make one immune from mental illness and does not make one an intellectual giant either. Social media is not a healthy place for thin skinned people in general, OF ALL AGES, and it urgently needs more regulation to ban trolls and vicious Neanderthal types who wreak such damage on certain vulnerable individuals.

          I met Claude twice at the supporters club and on both times he was affable and seemed unworried , though I am going back approx 4 years. I gained the impression that he was a decent man but not mentally strong and it mattered to him, probably far too much for his mental wellbeing, what others thought of him and his views on our club.

          His mate Ty was a source of frustration to Claude, though was a mate but they were polar opposites; Ty being a massive optimist and Claude the pessimist.

          Claude was not an academically educated man but I NEED TO SAY THAT NO MATTER HOW MUCH EDUCATION YOU HAVE OR HAVE NOT HAD, IF YOU ARE NOT MENTALLY TOUGH, THEN SOCIAL MEDIA IS A DANGEROUS PLACE.

          Truly sad then to hear of the untimely loss of Claude who was not old by todays standards.

          1. gotanidea says:

            Agreed, social media can be addictive and poisonous to some people

        5. ozziegunner says:

          GAI, one never know how sensative someone’s buttons are and the results if they are pushed.
          Mental illness and the “black dog” of depression are terrible things.

  3. Davi says:

    Wrt the mental health aspect, is there any sort of consideration with helping people to cope better with using the internet and the kinds of things that can happen? Might be more worthwhile than going after people who say mean things?

    1. Declan says:

      RIP Claude and sincere condolences to those close to him. Social media can be the catalyst for mental depressives and I know of at least two people who stopped posting on here because it was affecting their mental health and well being.

      1. Davi says:

        Is there a lot of abuse on this site? I haven’t seen any really (only been on here for about a year or so). A few over the top responses and a couple of silly posts but nothing excessive really..
        Maybe stopping was the right thing for them.

        1. Declan says:

          Sorry, I should have made it clear that I wasn’t talking about abuse, I think more to do with obsessive behaviour, somewhat similar to what Claude suffered from. Any abuse on here has always been dealt with quickly by the admins here.

          1. Davi says:

            Ah makes sense – thanks for clarifying

  4. siamois says:

    AFCTV have posted a statement with Claude’s family consent(they say) in which they stated that since he was taken off their platform AFCTV have continuously provided support to him how true it is that I don’t know but i thought this was somewhat hypocritical!

    1. ozziegunner says:

      siamois, one of the people associated with AFTV had provided Claude with free accommodation in a property she owns. Claude did not have a bad word for Robbie Lyle and publicly stated that he had helped him. Both Claude and Robbie publicly stated that they were still friends and talked. Claude has his own channel and appears on Lee Gunner’s channel with Kenny Ken, both of whom are on AFTV. How can this “be somewhat hypocritical”?

  5. Goonster says:

    RIP claude. I used to enjoy him and Ty going at each other’s throats in 2013/14. And Adrian Durham would make fun of them in Talksport ( The Daily Arsenal 😊)

    But on a more serious issue, I don’t know why people don’t get off personal social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik tok etc..)..

    I was into the social media bubble when it first came through in the early 2000’s (MySpace, Hi5, Beebo, MSN, Facebook, etc). That was in 2003-2008.

    I Quickly realised that it was not for me, just nonsensical gossip for insecure or narcissistic personalities. In 2009 I cancelled all of it down and I have never felt so free and sane.

    Stay off those narcissistic platforms..

    1. Dan says:

      That’s the point mate
      You enjoyed it
      Talk Sport enjoyed it
      But look close and I’m it sure Claude was enjoying it ?

      1. Davi says:

        So what’s the point? We shouldn’t make fun of anyone or anything in case someone’s feelings get hurt?
        We can’t cater to everyone’s feelings, especially when they put themselves out there. It’s common sense at this point, or should be. He could have easily just stopped doing the interviews.
        This kind of thinking is leading us towards a highly repressive society

        1. Dan says:

          Well it depends your moral compass ?
          If you saw someone was struggling would you carry on the joke ?
          For example my bf supports Liverpool , brother supports man United , so naturally there is banter
          If one of them started shouting , swearing , put on weight, etc I would say , mate this isn’t normal
          Go back and watch any Claude and Ty show and ask 2 things
          1- is that man happy
          2- is this how a man in his 50s should be reacting over a football debate ?

          1. Dan says:

            Bf by way is best friend lol.

          2. Davi says:

            Ah I just responded and its not showing – not sure what I did. In short I disagree because I think it should be the responsibility of the individual to move away from the things causing them stress or otherwise deal with it, and the people in his life to help him with that. I don’t think it’s realistic or fair to expect everyone else to pick up on these cues and act accordingly – that’s asking to world to change to suit you, and that’s not how it works.

          3. Dan says:

            But if you claimed to be his friends would you entice him with offers of his own show knowing he can’t handle it ?
            Be like taking an alcoholic to a pub and saying ‘ well it’s their choice to drink ‘
            If you care , you don’t take them to pub
            Also mate I disagree with it being unreasonable to expect to not be verbally abused online

  6. Wyoming says:

    Claude was a guy who had depression nothing to do with football or social media. His depression was there long before AFTV came along.
    I started following AFTV about 7 years ago .At first people interviewed were just fans talking about their views on the game. But gradually they became performers who became popular the more they ranted and raved. And no doubt it became a business dependent upon ratings which went up when Arsenal lost. But it was still entertaining even though it was all staged. It reminded me of WWF wrestling interviews in the mid 1980’s where just like the wrestling
    itself the ranting and raving wrestlers were all fake. But though we knew it was all fake we enjoyed it nevertheless. A disturbing element to me was the emergence and predominance of fake gangsters eschewing violence and endless swearing like Troops and DT. which eventually turned me off AFTV.
    There were some genuine characters on AFTV Claude and his side kick Ty being just two loveable if flawed personalities.
    But to say football + social media did for Claude is another example of simple answers for complex issues which only serve to hide the truth perpetuate myths and do nothing to improve mental health.
    RIP Claude your pain is over now a true Gooner to the end.
    P.S. Thinking of Heavy D too.

    1. jon fox says:

      WYOMING YOU SAID SOME KIND AND TRUE THINGS IN YOUR POST.

      But I have to tell you that AFTV was not a fake show. Those rows and rants were not acted, I promise you, even though in latter times such as DT and Troopz did start to parody themselves on occasion and fame went to their heads, as it did with some others, though it wasDEFINITELY not acted, but real.

      You are correct in saying WWE is staged and fake but not AFTV, which was sometimes too real for its own good. It was a good example of an enterprise that grew too quickly and before any sold foundations and principles were laid down to all.

      Too much depends on Robbie and he did valiently but could and cannot do it all on his own.

  7. Matthew says:

    May God rest him&may i add that families of those suffering from depression should do more to help them recover from it by showing utmost care&concern

  8. gmv8 says:

    Very very sad, felt like a kick in the guts … I guess we can all look back in hind sight, when we look at the factors leading up to this, and how more could have been done to help, and things handled differently, but he was very much loved by the Arsenal fans for his pure passion for the club – I hope he knew that. RIP Claude.

  9. ken1945 says:

    Having never followed AFTV after watching about ten minutes of one programme, I decided it wasn’t for me… so I just feel sorrow for a fellow Gooner who had a troubled life it seems.
    Goonster, your experience should resonate with all fans.
    It is also another reason why I find Just Arsenal, along with Untold Arsenal the only two places I have time5for.
    Both superbly run by Pat and regulated by the regular base of contributers themselves.

  10. Kev82 says:

    Twitter is full of little no good trolls hiding behind their keyboards with fake names and getting kicks by insulting people, no doubt adolescent teens who can’t get a girlfriend so they take their frustrations out on social media.. best to ignore these little morons who would fill a library with what they don’t know.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍

  11. Th14-Tw14 says:

    Everyone is acting decent now but the most successful manager of this club, a very decent human was and is still being subjected to vile abuses on this site but only few have condemned this. In fact the abuse was/is lead by the loudest (and often abusive) egomaniac that writes in capital letters. He even called Wenger (a man he isn’t qualified to be a steward to) “the old fool”.

    The stop abuse hashtag has to start first on this site.

    1. Mambo says:

      Very true, there are those on the site aith their vile remarks, and maybe one day someone will put a stop to it.

  12. Joe. S says:

    Never met Claude personally so I can only reflect from a distance. As I’m slow to pick up anything to do with this modern world I was introduced to AFT and Claude by my three now grown up children about four years ago. Thanks to my “brainwashing”., Arsenal have also become a part of their lives. After that we often took pride in spotting Claude on TV, behind the goals celebrating an Arsenal goal. All the way in Australia ,his joy reflected ours as did his frustration during post game interviews following a loss. I think a lot of the criticisms of Claude and AFT are unfair. Speaking for myself as well, we say the strangest things in the heat of the moment while watching a game or shortly after. It’s different 24 hours later when you are able to reflect and an Arsenal result no longer has any further consequences on your mood. At 65 this should have been dealt with a long time ago, but there you go. The popularity of AFT is mainly due to the fact that it was live and raw and the usual suspects often said what we were either thinking or wanted to say. As Robbie said Cause wasn’t perfect, but who is? RIP. As a fellow Paisano we might have had something to talk about besides Arsenal had we met.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      Joe. S all my Aussie – Italian friends followed Italian teams like Roma and Napoli.
      Australian soccer, before the National League, was based in the States on ethnic clubs. I followed my local club St George – Budapest, while my Italian mates followed APIA – Leichardt. A friend at University, a centre forward of Italian heritage, played first grade in Canberra at 15, represented
      ACT at 17, yet when he came to Sydney scored 3 goals in a second grade trial, but was considered too short by APIA to be signed. He played for the University of NSW in the State Leagues, with another friend, who had captained St George third grade (and a number of other good players). In their time at university the club was promoted 3 times as division winners. In those days there was more money in Civil Engineering than professional football in Australia.

  13. Joe. S says:

    Sorry,Claude.

  14. ozziegunner says:

    Robbie Lyle has stated on “All Gunz Blazing” that the official autopsy has confirmed that Claude died of a massive heart attack. It was well known that Claude had cardiac issues for some time.
    RIP Claude and condolences to his daughter and other family members, relatives and friends on his passing.

  15. GunnersaurusJnr says:

    Fair criticism. AFTV as a concept is brilliant. It did reflect the passion and anguish the fans had with how Arsenal were mismanaged as a club from top down. But, recently, there have been so many fancams that have been out of order and embarrassing. Troopz repeatedly telling Wenger and Xhaka to eff off. The Claude issue is tricky. I personally don’t think he was exploited as he was an active participant in the material. As for the arguments with Ty, I think Claude enjoyed winding Ty up as much as Ty enjoyed infuriating Claude. At the same time, was it wise putting him on camera.

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