Grief & FarkWed, 5th Feb '03, 2:10 pm::

I have a few mins to talk about this now. Wanted to speak about it since I woke up. Yesterday, Cliff Wilson died in a car crash. I wouldn't have felt one bit of sympathy had he not been a farker - member of the Fark virtual community. I woke up this morning and read on the front-page of Fark: [sad] "Farker Kilipo4 dies in car accident" and saw the other farkers had posted over 200 comments. I skimmed the article and went to check out the comments section but after reading just the first few, I gave up.

All I could read were comments like: "This is sad. Sorry to hear it and I hope he's in a better place now. My sympathy to his family." I could have posted my sympathies to his family too. But for some reason, I did not feel like becoming a part of the grief. And I tried to ignore it. But it's kinda impossible to ignore the death of a member of a community about which you care so much. Most people who don't spend more than an hour a day online, will never realize how important these virtual communities are to the people who're online 8 hours a day. For me, a website like Fark is more than a bunch of html links and images. It is a congregation of like-minded people, people who don't live down my road, but still say 'hi' to me when I post an interesting comment.

And from Fark's grief, started this thread on another popular discussion site: Meta Filter. What moved me most, and prompted me to write this 'blog entry, was this:

    What defines when we grieve? It's an odd question, but it's kind of relevant. 7 people die on a shuttle, and a nation grieves. 40 people die on a train and very few people notice. A girl dies in the playground and no one cares. A 'farker' who appears to have posted just twice dies, and an entire site seems to go into mourning. What controls our community and our sphere of mourning?

Yes, what defines when we grieve? Sometimes the death of a close relative doesn't make us as sad as a breakup in a relationship. Sometimes, forgetting my wrist-watch for a single day, agonizes me more than losing countless nights worth of sleep while studying for an exam.

Coincidences. They amaze me. Because this is EXACTLY what I wrote just last night in the Process Log - 02 for my Trauma and Literature class. I spent the better part of last night, pondering whether the sufferings of one differ from the sorrows of the other? In short, is your sorrow any worse than mine? If you are sad, are you any sadder than me? Do I have the right to question if your grief is superior or inferior to mine? Or more deserving of sympathy? While I didn't answer it in the log, I think not. Everybody has the same quality of happiness, sorrow, joys, and sadness in the world. Note, I said QUALITY and not QUANTITY. Someone may be unfortunate enough to get into a major car accident, rendering them disabled. And someone else might live up to the ripe age of 90 without even so a scratch. But does that automatically mean that the former victim, who might have a loving family to take care of him, has suffered more in his life, than the unscathed one that lived alone, unmarried, and lonely all his life? My point is: We are no one to judge. I guess this is akin to what I was saying a few weeks ago, in my incoherent babble, aptly titled: Chaos.

Anyways, I went on to read almost all of MetaFilter's comments, not because I was hoping to read a more analytical and sophisticated discussion on the topic (devoid of any sentimental statements that the Fark thread was full of), but mainly because I wanted to look at the incident, from an outsider's point-of-view. I, for some reason, did not want to let the sympathies of other farkers overcome my emotions and make me feel sad for Cliff too. I wanted to look inside, while being 100 miles outside.

Ahhhhhh the stuff this 'Trauma and Literature' class makes me think about. Don't worry though, I'm not gonna get depressed or anything. At the most, I'll become a little more social, humane, and loving :)

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