Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Death in the Age of the Internet

Someone I knew only on-line has died.

We met in EQ.  I joined a new (to me) guild after my previous guild broke up when the folks who started it up decided to leave the game.  I was in a place where I wanted to play, wanted to raid casually, wanted that community, but really didn't want the drama that had been part of my former guild.

I'd gotten to know a few people from different guilds, and the one I joined had good people, but of course, it wasn't my familiar guild.  (yet.  It got to be.)

S was one of the guild officers, and a tank, a really solid tank and a better person.  He wasn't flashy, but he was thoughtful and smart and decent.  He fit well in the guild because thoughtful, smart, and decent would characterize most of the people there pretty well. 

I saw a posting on effbee about S being ill, but didn't know what was up until I sent a message to D, a mutual friend, and found out that he was really, really ill.  And then he died.  And now I'm mourning someone I think of as S, when his real name wasn't S at all, someone I've never actually met but knew in this one limited way.

In EQ, death is a pretty frequent thing for avatars.  That's especially true of folks who raid, though probably truer for folks who raid more intensely than we did.  Nonetheless, the game has built in ways to deal with death; you can just loot your corpse and lose experience, or get a cleric to rez (resurrect) you and get some amount of your lost experience back.  (If you lose your corpse, then you lose everything you had on it, but that probably hasn't been an issue for a long, long time.) 

Death is so frequent in EQ, especially on raids, that I remember lots of corpse art after wipe outs; the monks who were dragging corpses would arrange them just so, in lines or patterns, and then take a screen shot before everyone got rezzed in.

But that's not how things work off line.  S will not get a rez, will not loot his corpse, will not wait for the mana folks to start buffing so we can get back to raiding.

Today, there are postings on S's effbee page; I put one up, but it feels weird to do so.  I vaguely recall reading at some point that the company would store the pages of people who died if someone requested it, so that the pages would be available, but given how fleeting things are in the digital age, I don't think that's going to be quite the same as a newspaper record or grave marker.

Good bye, S.  I miss knowing you are in the world being kind, and thoughtful, and decent.


  1. Sad, but also very interesting. It stimulates all sorts of questions in my pseudologist's mind. No doubt this phenomenon will become more prominent over time.

  2. One of my FB friends died. I found out by looking at her page randomly one night. This was someone I knew in person (though obviously we weren't close enough for me to be notified directly). I think it's odd, sad, and nice that she's still my fb friend.

  3. I stopped playing a FB game because I kept seeing the name of a recently deceased friend in the rankings. I couldn't delete the game from my account, though, because it felt like one of the last links to a person I'd only known online but counted as a great friend.

    Sympathies for S's passing - a friend is a friend and loss is never easy.

  4. my address book still lists the email address of someone i met online, although she died 7 years ago. i met her in person once, too, but she was the moral center of an online group that i belonged to back when. the group fell apart later, in a pretty horrible way. but she was a dear friend. and some of our friends are still friends.