Several web sites popular with early adopters are now populated with death-related material, according to a new Pew Research Center study.
Learning How To Die In The Anthropocene Online Book
Just trying to make sense of all the information that surrounds us and what needs to be done about it.
Look around: what are the most basic interactions you have on a daily basis? For most of us, each interaction is an opportunity to connect with others. Some may get talking about politics, others may share the latest news — or in the case of many of us, an infotainment rant. Even mundane acts such as handing out mail or vacuuming can be social activities.
But what happens when you want to connect with another person, but feel like you’re not able to?
In today’s world of instant communications, it feels like anyone can tell you whatever they want about anything — be it a new movie, political views, even the way you should smell. But how can you fight the urge to blow off steam when you have to wait hours to speak to someone about this subject — or even contact them all at once?
This is the experience of living in the Anthropocene, where the speed of nature creates even deeper gaps between humans and other species. Some observers, including skeptics, say these gaps can’t possibly be bridged without the development of more sustainable technologies — but the private, private, private of the world keeps getting the blueprints for this stuff, all of it. We are getting the rules for how this technology should be used, written down.
The online “symposium,” for all its potential as a viral provocation, is very much rooted in a visceral, nearly instinctual response to the absurd contradiction between the apparent speed of human communication and the length of time it takes to speak with someone. It’s a stunning and unnecessary example of the lack of discipline and self-control we have become prone to demonstrate at just about every turn. It’s also something of a guilty pleasure — in a good way.
When we are frustrated with the overwhelming number of random text messages, documents, and mass emails we receive, we decompress with a narrative, something that can enable us to take the temperature of the crisis, unify our various perspectives and connect us with other people on a deeply personal level. We can share our own stories of our own experiences with death and dying, all while interacting with other human beings who are sharing, and may soon, theirs.
This might be why members of the public are welcoming #KillingAlexis as a novel opportunity to engage with other people online about the topic and ultimately learn something about what it means to die in the Anthropocene. Many other commentators in this space have been guilty of considering it too seriously, and what is arguably the biggest appeal of the “BBC debate” (as it was called on the microblogging platform Twitter) — yes, you read that right — was that the participants were not just talking, but debating the subject with one another.
Alexis Murphy (Alexis) is an average young man, perhaps well educated — I could not verify that bit for myself — and working at a prestigious law firm in Washington D.C. He’s the kind of person most people would like to run into in public, but in this case, he’s above the law because his duty is to defend against or shut down any digital attacks. In typical heroic fashion, he took charge of his own investigation, published on Medium and alerted the entire law firm and the White House, and then linked to the three Youtube videos.
When he discovers the Tumblr accounts, which contain personal information about his family members, including medical records and photos of Alexis’ wife (Maria), he decides to end it all. But this only takes him just two days. By then, the trail leads to information that we are led to believe involves the Russian military, blackmail, and extortion, which, in turn, reveals an entrenched web of international criminal organizations.
Alexis will disappear in the proper way, in accordance with his code, and there will be no autopsy, no coroner’s report, no apology. He will leave a trail of evidence that exposes the diseased culture that has grown around death and dying — and with that, the world will learn to accept this chapter of history.