92: Digital Footprints

"I decided I needed to see what my fellow classmates were saying about this tragedy, so I went snooping around the usual internet haunts. Not finding much (the news was still fresh), I Googled Mark's name and stumbled upon an online profile of his. He was, apparently, a frequent MMOG player, partaking in World of Warcraft and several others, not to mention his high frag ratio for Counter-Strike and others like it. It was a whole side of him I hadn't known or seen."

Tom Rhodes explores the digital life as epitaph, and a window to an unlived life.

Digital Footprints

The true value behind a MySpace page like this is that it connects everyone in their grief. I know people that, through the tragedy of having a friend or loved one die, have discovered things they never knew and people they'd never met before. Having someone who knows them from a different perspective is amazingly refreshing in such times of pain, and deep, lasting friendships have been forged by people that otherwise may have not noticed each other on the street. The parents and family of someone who's died can also benefit from such an outpouring of sympathy, emotion, and love.

A friend who I had been out of touch with after moving died in a car accident a few years ago, at age 19. She was sweet, pretty, and outgoing, and there were no shortage of people who came to the funeral. There was a surprise, though: dozens of people who she kept in touch with (or knew exclusively) online had written in or sent video expressing their sadness and how much she'd meant to them, and a few flew or drove to attend in person. Her best friend had gotten onto her MSN, website, and forums accounts and let everyone know what had happened, and had to compile the overwhelming response. Most people were either smiling or tearing up, many both, as the beautiful, heartfelt prose was read out, and afterwards, some people who only knew each other through her references in conversation were meeting each other and sharing stories.

While the comments may never be read by the 'intended' person, they have something that's both epitath and community, a break and a rejoining. And that's the best we could hope for.

ET, that's a great way to look at it. I'm sorry to hear about your friend, it's so terrible when someone with their whole life ahead of them has it taken. I think that everyone deals with grief in their own way, and that you are correct in thinking that MySpace is a place where people could instantly know they are connected with others who are feeling the same way.

As a note, if anyone wanted to Digg this, please do:

http://www.digg.com/offbeat_news/MySpace_as_an_epitaph

Makes me think of Lain.

 

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