Go with a smile!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dying young

I haven’t seen a lot of deaths yet. I think deaths are really meaningful in 2 major ways: first, if they happened to somebody really close to you. Second, when you reach a certain age, everybody around you starts dropping off, and you are reminded that you are mortal.

With 1 important exception, I haven’t had anybody really close to me die. And even for my grandmother, it was something I had already psychologically prepared for, and for me, her eventual death was the end of a long process that was set off when she fell down and fractured her lumbar. For almost 7 years after that, her eyesight faded, her mobility was almost gone, and at the end she was almost helpless. Spirited yes, but also helpless.

Another death was somebody I had never met, but who I had made an enemy of right from the start. He started a cyberbullying campaign against me, but he messed with the wrong person. I took too long to find out who he was, and he did make things very difficult for me, but eventually he stopped after it had become clear it wasn’t worth it to wage war with me. He died in a car crash. I wasn’t exactly happy that he died but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved. I changed my blog because of him: I originally said that I was quitting blogging: since that didn’t happen, I changed my blog address. Well after I moved to “Mexico”, my blog has been in semi-retirement.
There was the death of somebody who I knew of from my high school. We had mutual friends. She was a lively, crazy girl, but she suffered from depression, apparently. She moved overseas and lived on a farm, and committed suicide.

When I was younger, I thought that it was glamorous that you had all these mad geniuses – Woolf, Dostoevsky, Tesla, Godel, Van Gogh, JF Nash. But now I wonder whether it’s all worth it. I remember fearing the prospect of growing older – say the age that I am now, and not thinking the same way as I did in my youth. Well it’s done, so what the hell. I’m merely content to be eccentric. Why not live a normal life without – well burning out in your youth is definitely unglam for the middle aged person because it means he’d be dead. When you’re young, you think of life as a sprint, and there’s that rush. When you’re young, you’re choosing between sprinting and rushing. When you’re older, you don’t have a choice – you are on a marathon, no ifs or buts. Put in some effort and leave a little bit for tomorrow. Live another day, die another day. I came to admire instead the people who lived long and productive lives – Paul Erdos, Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin. So many people to choose and learn from.

And finally I heard about this friend of mine who died. Well I didn’t know him well either – we had mutual friends. And he seemed like a nice guy, quite a smiley guy. But our last meeting 5 years ago wasn’t that happy – we met in a bookstore and we ended up talking about jazz, and he did say something about going to a jazz club or something, but later on he changed his mind about asking me – maybe what I had to say about jazz made him uncomfortable. Anyway – another one of my acquaintances is dead now.


Blogger visceral said...

Nothing online should be taken seriously.

3:13 AM

Blogger 7-8 said...

Those were different circumstances. You may remember that it took place when personal blogs were the latest craze. That craze is now over, as you may recall.

Back then the idea was to have a blog with maybe a 500 a day readership. I managed up to 50 a day. I was really annoyed when those incidents scuppered those plans. Normally I would have backed out but I decided, he's an asshole, the tomorrow fellars weren't going to help me (in honesty I don't really know what they could have done to help but well...) so I was going to waste his time and teach tomorrow a lesson by allowing their site to be vandalised every day. And I was vaguely impressed with the incredible amount of work he put into trying to "get" me.

Otherwise, in most other incidents, I would have let it pass and changed names / moved house. I'm also glad that all these incidents happened under my pseudonyms and not on facebook where everybody knows who you are.

The second point, of course, is that Mubarak, Gadhaffi and that Tunisia guy would probably disagree with your statement that nothing online should be taken seriously.

5:52 AM

Blogger visceral said...

Just as parents should love their children unconditionally, individuals ought to take what they read online in a light manner and with a pinch of salt. The ideal case may not always be.

9:12 AM

Blogger 7-8 said...

That depends. First, it was very unfortunate - I remember we were having a quarrel about an issue that was going on on the other side of the world, and it got heated up. I treated it as just another argument. For him, it got personal, and that was the incident that triggered him to start his attacks on me. I was guilty of taking my online persona too seriously but it's pretty obvious - he was more guilty of it than I was.

The other thing is - what you said is sometimes true and sometimes not. To most people, your online persona is really nothing to get worked up about. But if you were a journalist, or a blogger who's hoping to build up a reputation - I'm not going to rewrite history. Under a specific set of conditions, it was important.

11:23 AM

Blogger visceral said...

Granted some of us have a vested interest in how our online personas are perceived. As a reticent troll, I had my fair share of online confrontations, all in the name of comic relief.

11:29 AM