Death is a brutal awakening because you’re never asleep when it happens. I was wide awake and in deep in conversation with my childhood friend on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We were energetically debating about a daytime TV talk show. And as much as I try to avoid the habit of scrolling Twitter while talking on the phone, it’s much easier to give in.
Twitter never fails to be the immediate bearer of unfathomable news. And the delivery is casually callous. You nonchalantly stop at the cite of an explosion.
Your heart skips a beat. You believe your eyes are playing tricks, but you’re too scared to check and make sure. The person on the other line is begging for answers, but she has to wait.
You have to form the words, but how?
I continuously get the horrific breaking news via Twitter because that’s my home within the home that I hardly take any time to survey. I’m preoccupied with crazed timelines and nagging notifications.
Basketball legend, Kobe Bryant, his lovely 13-year-old daughter and protégée, Gianna, and 7 other victims were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
The details about that ill-fated trip are still unfolding, and that’s the crux of this new age of reporting in real time. The rushed headlines drive us bonkers on decent days, but when very bad things happen, the astounding recklessness is soberingly devastating.
TMZ is gangster with the shit. I recall being incensed with the disturbing way in which they morbidly detailed Fast & Furious star, Paul Walker’s final moments in the burning car that he was a passenger in when it crashed, days after Thanksgiving Day in 2013.
There’s also the full autopsy report that’s publicly unveiled. That’s when I truly wonder how such a thing is a permissible, and most importantly, how the dead celebrity’s loved ones are coping with the searing invasion at a period in their lives when absolutely nothing makes sense.
But things get even worse when you go against reason by attempting to mourn and connect with grieved users, who are expressing their disbelief in ways that mesh with your frazzled disposition.
You expect to see the social rituals of posted images that capture how popular and loved the deceased was, and that’s the contagious craving of celebrating those enviable moments that few are granted because platforms are a boaster’s paradise.
But it is touching to witness how many folks were intimately touched by greatness.
We also have the nonstop deposits of video montages that display what it means to be so alive that death seems so inconceivable.
You begin to fall into the trap door of utter despair, as it sinks in that these vibrant faces, bursting with the best elements of what makes living irresistibly seductive, are now hung in frames of memories, endless playbacks and clicks.
Things don’t improve when you expectedly get dirtied by the mud slinging of arguments about the examined track record of an imperfect human, who like many before him, undoubtedly leaves behind a slate that isn’t squeaky clean.
We keep ignoring the real reasons why that feat remains undoable.
You try to steer away from the wreckage, but at some point, you have to jump in, and it’s anything but solemn.
I mean, mourning on social media is the absolute worst!
It’s a dysfunctional method of seeking refuge in the exact venues that aren’t built to accommodate the complexities of these harrowing encounters with life’s most brutal realities, which none of us can escape.
There are a few bright lights shining through the rubble, but the minefields of triggers are hard to miss.
From the premature hashtags that unapologetically tag real humans, who don’t deserve the terrifying mentions, to the heartbreaking photos plastered about with heartfelt gestures, but it then it evolves into the scene of a ghastly event that you can’t tear away from.
Who are you mourning?
Are you feeling sorry for the unfathomable loss of lives that are gone too soon or are you feeling helpless and alarmed by the irrefutable evidence of how none of us are special enough to avoid the definition of “born to die?”
The clutter of mourners and those who either don’t give a damn, or only gave a damn for 5 minutes, creates a weird and unnerving response that makes it hard to channel acute emotions with the awareness of a human being, who shouldn’t rely on the interference of insensitive algorithms.
Even award-winning threads that contain every packaged tear-jerker we will ever need, only seem to symbolize how impossibly fierce the competition is to win over the crowd.
But it’s what we know. The art of being social and the media machine that fuels the rage and pain that makes our sorrow unrecognizable.
May we never fail in our quest to find solace and genuineness in the messiness of relations that require logins.
Life is fleeting, and the wounds that never heal will afflict us eventually, but there is strength in numbers.
Let’s make it count.