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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Tuesday
Dec052006

Mortality and Myspace

A sadly beautiful phenomenon has recently come to my attention. The blogs and Myspace pages of the dearly departed. With the advent of Myspace and the popularity of blogging, the odds of someone dying and leaving behind a virtual diary are pretty good. Looking through my computer monitor; the window into someone elses life. The life of someone no longer living. It almost feels supernatural to view the thoughts, hopes and dreams of someone who doesn't have a chance to see any of it come to fruition.

On December 2, an NYU graduate bicycling on the West Side Highway's bike path was killed by a drunk driver. Police say that 27 year old Eugenio Cidron turned onto the bike path after attending a party at Chelsea Piers after 9:30PM. According to the Daily News, Cidron's white BMW hit 22 year old Eric Ng so hard that his "bicycle and one of his black Converse All Stars flew onto the adjacent West Side Highway." The accident was near Clarkson Street; if Cidron was initially parked near Chelsea Piers, that means he was on the bike path for more than a mile! The police told the Daily News, "This [driver] wasn't supposed to be here in the first place. He was drunk, and he was really going."

The article provided a link to the victims' (Eric) Myspace page so I went over to check it out. From a printed name in a news article to a real person I could have been friends with. I looked at his page, read his blogs, laughed at his sense of humor, viewed his photos and felt sick over his death. Apparently, I clicked to the page seemingly before any of his friends knew he was dead. The most recent comments were happy sentences such as "last night was a blast, man! Call me!" Jesus. Snap your fingers and somebody's best friend died.

Contemplating somebody's tragic death is sad, but generally, as is human nature, such circumstances inevitibly lead us to ruminate on our own death. Viewing a dead person's Myspace page is like walking over their grave or maybe it's swallowing the bitter cocktail of sadness and fear for my own mortality that leaves me uneasy. When will it happen? How will I go? Everything someone dead has written seems very important or appears to be an ominous cloud of foreshadowing. If I died tomorrow (yes, I knocked on wood), this entry would be wild to read, yeah?

Of course, other thoughts jump into existence; if Eric is the only one that knew his Myspace password, will his page just stay up forever, an internet postcard of a young life snuffed out? I also wonder what would happen to this blog if I died. Will it stay here, floating in cyber space? A bunch of words and pictures puzzled together to form a life? If that's the case, I'm glad I puked all this up for y'all to read. I'm glad I said something, in any case... as opposed to dying and leaving so much unsaid.

Reader Comments (14)

That's creepy. I read some of the guys blogs. Sad.
December 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJib
I enjoyed this immensely as I've always been fascinated with death and particularly the human response to it. Today I blogged about this very topic myself.
December 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGlinda the Good Witch
wow. just wow. the comment on his page about stars burning brightly still long after they have gone out ... it makes me think of blogs and the people who write them. once we hit publish it's out of our hands. and who knows where it will turn up or who will see it, or how long it will be there.
December 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte
Thats really sad. He was so young. I'm really sorry to hear about it. I'm sure the driver feels horrible. I've always had a fear of accidentally hitting someone. Big cities are so crowded. I dont know that much about my space but it looks like he did have alot of friends. That says alot.
December 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMichael
it's so sad.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterana
That makes me want to cry. One young guy dead and the other's life ruined.
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterErinS
It is timely that you would write a post like this.

When I set up my website a year ago (next week!), a few days later I had to call an ambulance for the first and last time, for my husband. When I was told by the oncologist a few hours later that it was time to call the family, I was faced with: what do I say on our websites?

Because there was no longer any hope, he was transferred to the hospice the next day. I tearfully called a friend in Vancouver and asked if she would write a poem for him, and I gave her my login and password with the instruction to post the poem when I gave her the news. It was to serve as the official announcement. It was a lot of pressure to put on her, to write a poem such as this under duress, but she came through beautifully. The date was December 18, 2005. He died after less than a day and a half in the hospice.

I jokingly (and sometimes not-so-jokingly) chided my husband about his selective memory, but the upside to this is that I was able to get into nearly all of his online accounts to manage them, including his website.

I think it's important to keep his website and Flickr account alive, because his words and pictures are part of his legacy. Although I would understand how some people wouldn't feel the same way. I believe it's up to the individual to make that decision. And if they can't or are unable to, then that responsibility should go to someone who they trust.

Of course, when you're young, you don't think about dying. We're in our 30s. But websites should be considered as part of the estate, and should have a custodian (for lack of a better word).
December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGail
Oh wow Gail. Just, wow. So your husbands website and flickr pages are still up?
December 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
Gail...I am thinking of you and your family during this difficult anniversary that approaches you. I agree about the blog and keeping it on-line - it is like a space frozen in time of his true thoughts and views....again, just thinking of you.
December 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle
Wow. My gosh. Gail that is awful. My heart goes out to you as well. Are we able to view photos of him on his site? I'd love to. But if it's personal, that's okay.
December 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
I didn't put any links up because I felt it would be hijacking Monica's post about Eric Ng. They're easily accessible, though, and whatever photos, text, video, etc. we've posted to the internet, it's for anyone.

Eric was 22 and by all measures an adult, but young enough that he probably didn't consider any of his MySpace posts might be his last. So that brings me to some food for thought: what if you wrote a diatribe, and THAT was your last post hanging for all (www) eternity? And no one could modify it in any way?

It's natural to take stock of your life when tragedy strikes, but believe me, you don't want to wait for that to happen. In February, less than two months after my husband died, my friend's son died in an accident at the age of 11. I only saw them in October; they were one of the few who witnessed us getting married because they couldn't cancel their plane tickets from Hamburg booked many months in advance.

I went to Germany in March to make a memorial presentation for a boy who had not yet turned 12. He hadn't even reached puberty, although he did have a full, rich life in his 11+ years.

I don't want to sound like the voice of gloom and doom. I'm just saying, consider what you leave behind for others to remember you by. You can only prepare, but you can't predict.
December 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGail
It's sad but real. This post brought tears into my eyes. I visited Eric's page and read his friends' comments .. the latest comments.

And then I went to visit that mydeathspace. Dead blogs.. a virtual cemetery of thoughts.

I am also 22. And I have a blog.
December 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGabby
Hey Gail.. Feel free to post links to whichever of your husbands photos and words you'd like to share. I'd love to see his stuff.. as a tribute to his life.. Man, thanks for sharing such personal information. There are really no words in my arsenal to explain how touched I am to hear about the last year in your life. And you seem to be doing well, I hope?
December 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
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