I find my emotions in a particularly peculiar place. Today, as some people reading this blog may know, a man that I and many others knew from an online game--The Matrix Online (MxO)--suddenly and tragically died. Many people knew him a lot better than I did; In fact, I cannot claim to have known him as anything more than a casual acquaintance, and yet I feel an acute sense of loss. Upon hearing the news earlier I was stunned, clearly, but also visibly and mentally affected. I am certain that others in the MxO community--those that knew him better--were affected more than I, and will be affected for a long time yet.
Even though I didn't know him personally, Mike 'Nubious' Sloane has played on my thoughts on and off all day. Perhaps I am so surprised by my feelings because I feel the same as if somebody from my neighbourhood had passed away--somebody I knew, but couldn't call a friend; not really. It is that same feeling of knowing that something familiar will no longer be there. Something is out of place, and a part of what shaped my MxO life is gone. A small part, admittedly, but noticable.
It is an example of how the distinction between a 'real' friendship and an online friendship is, in contemporary society, artificial and, in reality, non-existant. We are in a position, technologically and mentally, to know somebody intimately whether they're 20 hours away or 20 seconds. Every friendship we create should be 'real', whether it is in person or digitally. We laugh with both, we share interests with both.
We grieve both. They are the same. If they are not, then it us who is at fault.
Above all, however, the loss of Mike Sloane is not a societal issue, nor is it something I or anybody else should be analysing. It is a life cut tragically, and suddenly short. I can offer only my condolences to his family and friends.
Rest in Peace, Nubious.