It is considered laughable by some that those you meet in social media, people you have no other physical connection to, can be considered friends. After all, as we are surely all aware, the Internet is the ultimate masquerade ball. No one can ever be thought to be truly what they seem. Doubt nags at the corner of the mind for some; others take everything to be true. The Internet has scrambled our perception of reality and the people in it.
So many of us have so many connections via our social media that we often lose contact with people we have "met" at a time or another and found to be kindred souls. When you begin to interconnect with hundreds and thousands of people, some invariably get lost in the shuffle. Most of us think nothing of it, as they usually resurface at some point.
Then, last week, I ran across a bit of, for me, disturbing news. Someone I followed on Twitter has died, apparently right around Thanksgiving. His handle was @weywerdsun, his name unknown to me and perhaps the thousands that followed him. It took me aback, because I swore I had seen him many times, but realized that the holidays had created a temporal myopia that made me mistaken.
Herein, I do not seek to eulogize him, for to do so requires a depth of knowledge of the man I have no access to. He was an acquaintance, a free thinker, a man who would pose meaningful questions, not because he expected answers, but because he wanted dialog. He believed -- as far as I can surmise from our few interactions -- that problems were solvable with thought. He has the same level of impatience I do with politics. He also believed, as do I, that ignorance is our greatest enemy. Where we seek to believe but do not seek to question and to learn, we deny ourselves truth and the solutions to our problems.
Now he is gone.
As with Aaron Swartz, another person doing their part to lift up humanity from the weeds, @weywerdsun has left us. It is in this moment, when we sense the loss, that we can take our moment to mourn, but only just a moment. What it takes for us to truly prove our love and kinship to these people who are merely ephemeral to most of us, is to recognize their goodness, recognize their forthrightness, see what they were trying to accomplish, and to pick up where they left off. We must continue the dialog. We must continue to seek truth. We must continue to improve. We honor them only by our action, and so we must carry on.