Rubbernecking Roadkill on the Information Highway

I recently found out about and out of morbid curiosity, went to visit the site. I was expecting something assholish and tasteless, including commentary like “What a dumbass. His car hit a tree. Har dee har har.” Fortunately, this wasn’t the case. Other than the Tim Burtonesque skull at the top of each page, the tone was somber and respectful.

Perusing the site is quite different from reading the obituaries in a newspaper. For one thing, there are literally thousands of people listed on MyDeathSpace, complete with photos and the cause of death. And like the living members of MySpace, they were almost always younger than I am, the majority ranging from their teens to mid twenties.

The site made me feel both old and lucky.

What held my interest going page through page of the departed was how they died. When old people keel over, it’s their legacy that matters, not what did them in. For the young, there are decades of life that are never going to happen and it’s natural to wonder why.

Just to be clear, my findings are in no way scientific. I didn’t tally causes of death onto a scorecard that I could later use to render pie charts and projections for the next fiscal quarter. I’ll leave that for the ghoulish statisticians out there. I’m sure there are plenty of them. I simply browsed and saw what I saw.

There were victims of cancer, congenital heart defects, and a surprising number of deaths from cystic fibrosis. If you want proof that life isn’t fair, you need look no further.

Given the age group, it should come as no surprise that lapses in judgment caused a lot of deaths. Accidental drug overdoses, chugging hard alcohol, and driving like a maniac claimed a lot of lives. Most people live through their moments of stupidity. These folks did not.

With the state of the world these days, there are also war fatalities. I personally hate our involvement in Iraq, but still honor these service men and women for their sacrifice. With that honor comes anger. The old and powerful have always started wars so the young and powerless can go die in them. These kids, and a lot of them are just that, lost their lives in the service of their country. Those lives were worth something. Our government, and ultimately ourselves, bear the responsibility of taking them away. It better be for a damn good reason.

Even more senseless were all the people on the site who died by murder or suicide. I must have led a sheltered life when I was young because when arguments and fights broke out, nobody pulled a gun. Am I missing something? Since when did owing someone money for drugs or staring at his girlfriend’s butt become grounds for justifiable homicide?

This is not to say that those who took their own lives were any wiser in their motives. Getting dumped by lovers or experiencing financial troubles were reason enough to eat a bullet. One poor, misguided kid of 14 actually killed himself because his iPod was stolen. I’m sure if his parents knew beforehand, they would have gladly given him another iPod. Or better yet, a set of priorities.

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