April 26, 2006

Speaking of the superficiality of myspace...

MyDeathSpace.com is a website devoted to compiling the stories and linking the to myspace profiles of people, most of them very young, who have recently died.

At first, you may be a little sickened as you start reading the maudlin stories surrounding their deaths--but keep in mind these are culled verbatim from local newspapers.

A 25 year old killed in an avalanche, a young guy killed doing a skateboarding trick, a 17 year old woman stabbed while working at McDonald's in Vancouver. Automobile accident. Accidentally shot by father, suicide.

The page contains links to the person's myspace page, which is both banal and extraordinary. The banality of the typical myspace page--the default colors of orange and blue, the songs, the self-imposed demographics. These banalities are transformed with the knowledge we've taken with us to the page.

The photos are typical for myspace...prom gowns, me and my truck, me and my girlfriend, me on vacation with my family. Transformed again. The convention we have of smiling in photos, of forcing ourselves to look happy, takes on extra import on these ghost-pages, for they lay bare our obliviousness to death, the fact that we never know. A flush of omnipresence in the viewer whose just surfed here--before and after shots. Here you are at Disney World, smiling away. But I know that in a few weeks you'll be working late at the liquor store, and the robbers will pull a gun...

I think it's one of those moments when the superficial architecture of these kinds of websites actually lends itself to a strange form of intimacy and meaning.

Then there are the comments, which have taken on the form of a memorial book, a way to speak to the dead. Personally, I find this sort of superficial memorializing to be incredibly tacky, especially when addressed directly to the deceased.

The latest comment left on the profile of a 22-year-old skateboarder who died while doing a trick never even met but figures they would have been good gym buddies.

mydeath1_4_06

These comments are directed to a 17-year-old woman stabbed to death while working at McDonadl's. She will be toasted at future parties in perpetuity.

mydeath2_4_06

I like this comment..."what the fuck am i supposed to do?"

mydeath3_4_06

Very superficial, is myspace, but in a certain context, with a certain amount of background knowledge, they appear much more intimate. I feel like a fly on the wall, an intruder, a voyeur.


Posted by jason at April 26, 2006 08:10 AM
Comments

I think itís a great idea that we will be seeing more of, although it needs work.

When my mother died, I wished there was a warm and fuzzy website that I could down load photos, like www.caringbridge.com except for dead people.

When I went to the site the first thing I saw was an ad saying MY DEATH SPACE IS BROUGHT BY HOLLYOOD POLKER.COM and was repeatedly redirected and invited to play online poker with Louie Anderson and Tanya Harding.

As inviting as that may sound, not wanting to play, I passed.

I did eventually get the avalanche victim although he was identified as Death #119

That's a little cold... even for an avalanche victim.

Someone someday is going to make a lot of money by doing this right. Baby Boomers will eat it up.

Posted by: john at April 27, 2006 12:50 AM

yeah man... this almost validates the whole myspace thing. and if you look at it, any sort of personal homepage you have on the net, even your blog or something, will remain after your gone. virtual immortality, and all that other science fiction garbage.

Posted by: jeff at April 29, 2006 03:16 AM

OMG, there's something so eerie in this in that it really calls into mind the fine line between life and death... reminds me of when I was 16 and a girl came into a restaurant I worked at. We struck up a conversation about a favorite artist of mine (she a had a keychain) she gave me her name and number as I had some of this artist's stuff that she wanted to buy... two weeks later I looked in the newspaper and her dad had shot her to death. Again... reality slapping you across the face.

Posted by: Chris at April 30, 2006 02:07 PM
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