Like quonsar said, not necessarily Metafilter at it’s best, but certainly at it’s most interesting, in some ways. When the WTC was hit, when the bomb went off in Bali, and today, to offer some examples : all have been moments when it was fascinating to read the raw responses of people to tragedy, to watch how the community dealt with it, to see the both the maudlin sentimentality and the black humour, the heartfelt grief and the political opportunism, the whole sweep of emotion that folks feel when they are hammered by unexpected loss, all packaged up in one neat blue thread.


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  1. Actually, I think it is MetaFilter at its finest. Threads like these are when we see the members without their masks in place (mostly) and the real people of MeFi come out, sans snarks, in-jokes and memes.
    I just wish their was no need for threads like these – there have been way too many in my short time at MeFi.

  2. Yeah, I don’t know about “at its finest” — it’s certainly not what I come to MeFi for — but given that I come to MeFi for the other stuff, it’s absolutely fascinating to see people reacting from the gut. You learn a lot about them. I’m just glad that nobody started on the “what makes these people more important than the X people who recently died in Y?” idiocy until the thread was pretty much dead.

  3. well, i waited respectfully, until i could stand it no more. i found some of the thread to be a depressing example of selfish, escapist victim-mentality sentimentality.
    most of the planet is more concerned with more fundamental aspects of survival, not to mention avoiding death via state/international terrorism.
    what i found most galling was the complete lack of appreciation that all are equal in death, or any respect or remourse for the dead in zimbabwe/elsewhere.

  4. But, asok, it wasn’t about the dead in zimbabwe/elsewhere; it was about these particular dead. If we’re not allowed to mourn any dead unless we simultaneously mourn all dead everywhere, we will never mourn, and the dead will be forgotten. Would you go up to somebody mourning his friend and say “How dare you give your friend’s death so much importance when hundreds of people just died in a flood in Bangladesh (or a wreck in China or whatever)”? I don’t think so. It’s unfair to blame people for mourning one thing at a time.

  5. i didn’t bother to read the mefi thread, as i had my own gut reaction to the whole thing. since you seem interested in the raw emotions, i left you a link.

  6. A good paragraph from Slacktivist:
    Inevitably when something like this happens, someone will feel the need to point out that seven other people somewhere else were killed the same day and we’re not making a big deal about them. There may be some value to this egalitarian sniping about priorities, but this is probably not the most constructive way to raise this point. This argument reminds me of the communion scene from Places in the Heart and I imagine Sally Field and Danny Glover breaking bread with the Columbia astronauts, and with the nameless Nigerians killed in that bank explosion, and with Gus Grissom and Ed White and Roger Chafee, and I remember that there’s room at the table for all the forgotten and the honored dead and all of us, the living.

  7. Well, I didn’t find myself in the least bit upset by the event, to be honest, and at the risk of sounding cold. These folks were out there skating on the edge, and they knew the dangers that were part of their job, and so on.
    Terrible, sad, death always is, for those who are left behind, of course. But death is always abstract until it happens to you, or to someone you love.
    If it’s not up close and personal, unless those have died represent something for you in some meaningful way, grieving doesn’t really make any sense, and collapses into sentimentality.
    Which is to say, in a roundabout way, that I’d have to agree with Steve, I think.

  8. i agree, stav. i think they went out in high fashion – doing what they loved and experiencing something most of us never will. i can only hope to go out like that.
    i was just completely weirded out that it happened so close to me -again-. fscking weirded out.

  9. “They went out doing what they loved” doesn’t make them less dead and doesn’t make their kids (if they have any) any happier. Having lost way too many friends over the years who died “doing what they loved”, I find this statement to be total crap.
    Sure, they knew the risks and their deaths should be no real surprise. They are still dead. But their deaths do not affect me in any real way, except that I am sad for them and sad for those who loved them. I am also sad that, in these days, a relatively minor blip on the radar can put a wonderful program at risk. We should be risking more, aiming higher, pushing the envelope further. Maybe then we would fight with each other less.

  10. dg, sorry if i struck a nerve. that wasn’t my intent. perhaps if you popped over and actually read my essay, you wouldn’t have felt the need to go off on me like that… especially considering that i reached the same conclusion you did.
    oh well, whatever. i’m not fighting with you… i’m just sayin’….

  11. steve – I agree that people should be given a chance to grieve, but I felt that all the wailing and gnashing of teeth was a bit on the ‘victim mentality’ side. Nobody who posted professed to have a link with the astronauts, or any personal attachment to that particular shuttle mission. I will try to explain:
    If I knew that the space programme was being mis-managed, why didn’t these people who scripted such heartfelt eulogies to the dead astronauts? I am not from the USA, but I do have an interest in the space program.
    I would contend that these deaths were avoidable, had the Nasa budget not been slashed and management appalling since the last space shuttle disaster. That’s 17 years.
    The bravery of the astronauts was not in question for me, however I would suggest that it was related to their (possible)knowledge of the management practices (criticised by Feynman in 1989) which left them much more vulnerable to this kind of disaster than was neccessary.
    People have a right to be upset at this tragedy, but if they profess to love the space program they should have been aware of the serious issues which were left undealt with from the Roger’s report.
    (tangential thought) So a parallel with the knackered infrastructure of Zimbabwe is not unthinkable.

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