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Davis, California

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Column: A blunt in your honor

What people do on Facebook confuses the shit out of me. Always has, always will.

Last Sunday at 12:45 a.m., a high school classmate of mine died in a motorcycle accident on the 110 Freeway. According to news reports, he was involved in a solo accident in which he probably lost control and fell off of his motorcycle. Moments later, while lying on the freeway, he was hit by a car going 70 mph.

I’m nearly 100 percent certain that I had never even spoken a word to this man in the entire four years we went to high school together. I wasn’t even his Facebook friend, which some would demarcate as the lowest form of “knowing” someone.
It was actually through Facebook that I found out about his death. In fact, it was probably only through Facebook that I would have been able to find out.
After all, his death didn’t make a splash in the broader media spectrum. We’ve got bigger fish to fry on the news front with topics like the looming presidential election, college girls getting abducted and subsequently killed and a space shuttle rolling down the streets of L.A.
What fascinated me about this entire episode wasn’t the lack of media coverage, nor was it the suddenness of his death.
It was the Facebook comments plastered all over his wall.
Naturally, upon finding out about his death, my morbid curiosity led me to his Facebook page. There, I skimmed over the comments that his friends and loved ones left for him.
“Too soon bro.”
“You were a chill guy.”
“I’ll pack a bowl for us tonight homie.”
“Imma smoke a blunt in your honor.”
It went on and on in a similar fashion. A collection of expertly-crafted, pithy one-liners mixed with tear-jerking promises of getting high to celebrate his life. I was touched.
Upon my own death, I’d like to request here, formally and in writing, that all my bros light one up for me. It’s what I’d want. Oh, but you have to post it on my Facebook wall first before you actually smoke in my honor. It wouldn’t be right any other way.

The same kids that were putting statuses up proclaiming things like “Life is so short, live every day like it’s your last, RIP,” would reappear literally a minute later on my feed commenting on some picture with “LMFAO!!!!! Last night was so wild hahahaha <3.”

It was as if their mourning suddenly withered away after posting their condolences on Facebook. “Well now that I’ve posted this status, I think I’m due for my good karma this week.”
It’s a unique age we’re living in. Never before has there been a medium like Facebook. You couldn’t post on someone’s wall after they died. There was never a soapbox from which you could express your sadness to a wide-ranging audience, to broadcast to them your extreme mental anguish and suffering.
It begs the question: Where does your Facebook go after you die?
“It just stays there.”
No shit, Sherlock.

I meant in a more metaphysical sense. Does one’s spirit continue to watch over their Facebook? Eagerly awaiting the next red flag to pop up in their notifications?

“Fuck, Vanessa didn’t write on my wall after I died. I’m going to haunt that bitch.”
In another sense, the Facebook wall could be akin to portraits in Harry Potter, in which characters can speak to the deceased. Or maybe it’s the Resurrection Stone?
Facebook stands as the last bastion. The one final, “real” connection felt between a person and their dearly departed.
Thus, despite my misgivings about Facebook, I think I’m going to have to keep it until I breathe my last breath. Who knows what the longevity of Facebook will be, though? Can you see yourself using Facebook twenty years from now? Forty years?
Should Facebook die, I’m sure there will be a new medium that will allow people to leave me nice, flowery thoughts in the wake of my death. And who knows, with the rate that technology has been advancing, maybe there will be a way to communicate with the dead sometime in the future.
Think about it: I’d actually be able to see you smoking a blunt in my honor!ANDREW POH wants to know what the kids in Harry Potter used to talk to dead people, so if you’re a Potterhead, let him know at apoh@ucdavis.edu.

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