As some of you have mentioned in the comments--as it's been circling around Twitter since late yesterday--SBN has lost one of its family members. As you can read here, writer Tim Allen of Canis Hoopus passed yesterday. If you wish to leave a condolence note to their community, feel free. This is a personal as well as a professional loss for many around the network. If you've ever lost someone you know that feeling of confusion, emptiness, and weird unreality that gives way to sadness. For those experiencing that today, handshakes and hugs. Especially to Tim's family, our thoughts are with you.
It also strikes me that events like this bring up something we don't often talk about or consider: the people behind these keyboards are human...sometimes very much so. The relative anonymity of the internet creates its own culture. We've been trained to consume entertainment, and the people who provide it, for our own purposes. Daytime "helping" talk shows and the nightly news encourage us to view other people's difficulties as storylines. Talk radio encourages us to depersonalize everyone around us: those we agree with as righteous heroes and those we disagree with as unconscionable ignoramuses. The relatively democratic power of the 'net allows us to pretend that our own opinions are the center of the universe and everything (i.e. everyone) else comes second. Everyone who dares to speak publicly in our society knows what it's like to be pushed away, depersonalized, and rated on a scale of stupid to brilliant (until you say your next thing, when you may well be stupid all over again). At no point in this are you actually real, like a real, live person doing the best that you can to frame issues and talk to other real, live people. Reality is an inconvenience to the dance of snap judgments and consumption.
This is true in the lives of celebrities, it's true of blog authors...it's even true of people who leave comments and Fanposts. It has nothing to do with Tim's passing directly, but in a general sense we're reminded that behind every word you read on a site like this--main page, sidebar, or comment--there's a human being. We're never going to escape the anonymous consumption culture but it wouldn't be a bad thing to resolve to be a little more human to each other in the wake of a tragedy like this. It does wonders on days when you need support but it also makes everyday conversation--and life in general--much, much better.