Over this break, we Fast and Furious fans were devastated by the loss of Paul Walker in a fatal car crash.
This got me thinking about death and the way social media and the internet has changed the way we view it. Today even after a person dies you can find countless pictures and videos of them on Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc… For me personally, this makes dealing with death a little easier but at the same time it brings up some unpleasant emotions that I’ve been having trouble understanding.
It makes death a little easier to stomach because these images and videos are snapshots of the essence of the people we lose. Whenever we need a pick me up we can look at a picture from happier times and smile remembering the good times that were shared. Many fear that they will forget their loved ones but these pictures serve as little constant reminders of them once their body is 6 feet under. In Paul Walker’s case there are not only countless photos on the web but he is forever immortalized in DVD’s of movies and TV shows he’s done throughout the years. Brian O’Connor will forever be the bad boy racer with a heart of gold who stole our hearts throughout the Fast & Furious franchise and these movies keep him alive in a way.
Now at the same time these pictures can evoke different emotions depending on ones relationship to the person who was lost. A feeling of being almost haunted by these pictures can manifest. Sometimes these memories are met with sadness for the loss. Earlier this year one of my oldest friends ever committed suicide and this left me and my friends reeling. How could someone who seemed so happy in pictures be so tragically sad and unhappy in reality? Everyone who knew her was aware of her slightly darker side but we were all floored by her death. Although sometimes pictures of her smiling make me grateful to have known her and witnessed this joy that she portrayed and spread among those around her, these same pictures confuse me. They confuse me because behind those grins she hid her pain and masked her unhappiness.
Even though she took her own life, somehow these pictures made me understand where she was coming from in a sense. She no longer had to pretend to be happy in this existence she found to be so difficult. She finally found her happiness beyond what most of us can understand as such.
For some of us who mourn Paul Walker these pictures are tiny glimpses of memories that elicit a feeling of happiness while for others they bring about a feeling of loss and confusion over his untimely death.