Blogged to Death

It seems a South Florida college student killed himself earlier today by overdosing on drugs in front of a live online audience as some computer users egged him on, some debated his method, and others tried to talk him out of it.

From the AP as reported in USA Today under their “Technology” section:

Montana Miller, an assistant professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said Biggs’ very public suicide was not shocking, given the way teenagers chronicle every facet of their lives on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

“If it’s not recorded or documented then it doesn’t even seem worthwhile,” she said. “For today’s generation it might seem, ‘What’s the point of doing it if everyone isn’t going to see it?”‘

She likened Biggs’ death to other public ways of committing suicide, like jumping off a bridge.

Crane said she knows of a case in which a Florida man shot himself in the head in front of an online audience, though she didn’t know how much viewers saw. In Britain last year, a man hanged himself while chatting online.

In a statement, CEO Michael Seibel said: “We regret that this has occurred and want to respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time.”

Gee, you’d think if he was going to put on a show, a gun might have been involved… How disappointing.

Update: Another lurid take on the story.


17 Replies to “Blogged to Death”

  1. It seems to me that the “1984” generation always had a bit of fear about Big Brother invading their privacy.

    Yet the digital generation seems to invite him in.

  2. Hey Martin,
    Long time long time. Hope things are well with you… or at least better than this poor fellow. Tanya

  3. Hi Tanya, real names… ooo, aren’t we daring? 🙂 Nice to hear from you! I’m doing quite fine thanks, all considered. Just sipping my martini and chilling, listening to some Rossini…. lovely. How’s things on your end. Are you still at Columbia?

  4. Ottlib — Excellent point. I was doing some research into RFID and the “Real ID” program the other day and while not venturing into Alex Jones or David Ickes territory, we do seem to be on the verge of a veritable “Big Brother” state in many respects. I’m afraid that the younger set is merrily waltzing into it quite utterly oblivious to the fact that their most essential civil liberties and rights to privacy are being steadily encroached upon. I wonder what the “tipping point” will be when they start becoming more aware of how all-pervasive the corporate state has become and finally realize with a rude shock of awakening that their hitherto thoughtless assumption of benign intent may perhaps have been sadly misplaced.

  5. TT — Well, yes and no. Like the good professor pointed out, it’s not all that much different from demonstrative suicides (of which there are more than you may think), just using a different medium.

    What strikes me as peculiar about this “event” is the method chosen, as overdosing is usually an intensely private affair that doesn’t exactly lend itself to public exhibition. That’s why I joked about him not simply blowing his head off — which would have been rather spectacular and quite memorable.

    So, the bottom line here is that it’s really nothing all that new, but the technology does put a bit of a new twist on matters.

    I hope the take-away from this isn’t that it unduly scares parents about the intrinsic “evil” of the Internets because I think that would be the wrong conclusion to draw from it. Just because some tragically messed up kid wanted to go out in a rather pathetic, melodramatic, online sub-blaze of glory, shouldn’t frighten them into thinking that one thing leads to another or anything of that sort.

    p.s. Nice pics from the convention, btw. Sorry for not commenting more, but I was kind of busy that week.

  6. I agree a hundred percent with what you’re saying. It’s almost as though he needed the “egging on” to get it done with. It certainly didn’t seem like a normal way one would off themself. But interesting nonetheless.

    Thanks. I took the pictures down after leaving them up just long enough for the “regulars” to have a peek. It was a lot of fun, but rather expensive to be honest. I hope the party realizes that there were “normal families” who paid their way just to have the experience.

    I’m sure there are those who will “argue” with me, but I think the whole experience “matured” me as a blogger. Sure, I met a heck of a lot of Tory MPs, but had some very thorough and educating conversations with Marlene Jennings. In fact, she’s nothing like the “attack dog” she seems to be during QP and the like. At one point, she told me my baby was “in good hands” and was really intelligent.

    Thanks for checking, and no problem about the comments. I knew, somewhere, you were looking. There were some bloggers who were quite surprised to find out that you and I have had some very cordial conversation, if you know what I mean.

  7. It was interesting to put a face to a name/voice, as is always the case. You have a very lovely young sprout, btw… although that almost goes without saying, doesn’t it? (And yes, your wife may take full credit for that… but it’s always a joint venture after all.)

    I noted your remarks about engaging in a charming and worthwhile conversation with Marlene Jennings and that made me smile. We’re not all of us all that different at the end of the day in many respects. We all put out pants on one leg at a time and all that… There’s altogether too much knee-jerk partisan rancor that seems to get in the way of things at times and it’s all too easy to lose perspective on the Internet, being disconnected and virtual as it is. So it was kind of “heartwarming” if I can use that corny word to see you admit that in a face-to-face encounter, someone from the “enemy” camp wasn’t quite the relentlessly miserable harridan you may have imagined her to be.

    I’m hoping to get over to the Liberal convention in May, but can only do so by virtue of it being so close to home and having a place to crash in Vancouver. So I can totally appreciate the expense and inconvenience involved to attend. That’s part of the reason I’m quite big on the OMOV initiative and doing away with these old-fashioned shindigs that favour the wealthy and well-connected. The old Reform Party had a few things right and that “virtual grassroots” approach to membership was one of them imho.

    Yes, funny that we have a “cordial” (gee, that sounds rather frosty) relationship outside of blogging and slagging one another online, but I’ve always taken some small degree of satisfaction in being able to build bridges to the other side from time to time, as I think most reasonable people do given that we’re all really working towards pretty much similar goals at the end of the day. How we get there will perhaps always be the hotly contested matter of dispute, but it’s important not to lose sight of the “big picture” and the ultimate objective which is the betterment of our individual civil liberties, collective sovereignty, and common wealth. (We can discuss the finer points of all that, of course…)

  8. No, not at Columbia anymore. I was… uh… hem… asked to leave. Yea, that’s the answer. And it’s ok. I realized that I hated it and probably sabotaged myself for my own survival. I’m much happier where I am now, which is back at a place I used to work before. I’m Senior Archivist of sorts, a nice place without having to be actually in charge… which is fine by me.

    Glad to hear that you are doing well! And hi KEv, too!

  9. Thanks for the kind words about the baby. He has just gotten over severe colic and is finally sitting there and taking it all in. That was a challenge and a half as my first boy was remarkable as a baby. He was always so happy. I guess no two are the same.

    I’m glad my conversation with Jennings made you smile. In fact, I felt rather good about it. I read stories of other bloggers getting “in trouble” by delegates for talking to her, but I would have said something had that been me. Without getting too deep into it, we talked about Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, which Prime Minister she preferred as her boss (I can’t tell, I’m sworn to secrecy) and the old Progressive Conservative/Reform Party ideological differences. If given the opportunity, I’d love to go out for a coffee with her and continue to conversation. There’s something to be said about a mature discussion with someone from “the other side”…it seems to be more fulfilling than a bunch of “yes men” intent on agreeing on everything. That being said, there are still rifts within the party, but that has largely been sorted out.

    I didn’t quite use the word “cordial”, in fact, I used the word “buddies”. Jaws dropped all around, but that’s where I went on to explain what you just said about building bridges and the like. The discussion quickly faded, lol.

    If you can go to the Liberal convention (which I actually thought about myself) do it. As expensive of an experience as the Tory one was, I think it was well worth it. Like I said, I feel like it has “matured” me and I even feel far more “critical” than one may have thought I have been over the last two years. Although I am picking and choosing my battles. Lol.

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