It’s an unsurprising by-product of the widening global conversation we’re able to have — honoring those who pass in new ways and finding new ways to be sanctimonious. Each time someone famous or influential passes away, for about a week all you see all over Facebook are ways a person changed the world, how the ripples of their actions shape our experience today. Even when it’s someone we haven’t thought much about in some time, it becomes sort of a rallying cry to the montage of their life.
You have to sidestep carefully around the admonishments toward everyone who “knows nothing” about the person or “has not taken the time to appreciate them”. It begs a simple “When was the last time you thought about that same person, with the exception of right now since it’s on everyone’s mind?” When Michael Jackson died, for example, everybody was his biggest fan and talked about how profoundly his music changed their lives. For some people, true; for most, they probably scoffed at his mention and hadn’t listened once in ten years prior until it was convenient to feel differently about it.
One in particular said “If you’ve spent all week morning this man (picture of Paul Walker, who also recently passed away) but don’t even know who this man is (picture of Nelson Mandela), you are without doubt part of the problem.”
First of all, the problem? Second, these are words said by many people who themselves have more than likely spent no time considering Nelson Mandela themselves. Sure, I get the overall point being made in that picture, and we are indeed a society bent way too much on our movie stars and such. All the same, it’s silly to wag the finger at people for not regularly acknowledging someone who is, whether right or wrong, not really a topic of typical conversation. Even for those that are political-minded or very savvy on world events.
I’m not trivializing Nelson Mandela’s influence in the world by any means, nor anyone else for whom this sort of thing has brought into focus over the years. I don’t think, however, that anyone realistically has time to consider every significant person alive today on a regular basis, such that the loss should affect them all equally profoundly.
The positive antipode of this is the fascinating montage, as I mentioned in the beginning. So many posts in the news feed about a person, in impressive succession. Everyone remembering the person in their own way, contributing to the total remembrance. Not a bad way to fade into memory, I suppose, in the digital frontier.