Monday, June 8, 2009

Another life cut short by a drunk driver sparks a tribute that ignites cyberspace

How many more times are we going to read the same story: local kid with promising future dies when drunk driver smashes into her car. The latest local victim is Carey Curtis, a 26-year-old emergency room worker at Kern Medical Center. She had two children, lived in Shafter and was on her way home after a night shift when the accident happened. Beyond the tragedy of Carey's death is the curious and very modern way that death in mourned these days. I was on Twitter, following my pal radio host Rachel Legan over at KGFM 101.5, when Rachel sent out a note saying Carey's friends were posting farewell messages on Carey's MySpace page. (view it all here) View for yourself but the page is not unlike any young woman's personal profile, lots of personal stuff about friends and music and longings. The postings today after her death are simply heartbreaking. Wrote one friend:

"HEY GIRLIE... I LOVE YOU. Its CRAZY how short life is. I just talked to you friday night about how much our lives changed since we were younger, and just one short day later I find out that life has changed dramatically overnight. I was so proud of you for getting ready to go back to respiratory school. Do me a favor girl... keep in touch k... my mom's up there... she'll look out for you... I'm gonna miss you Carey...

This is stuff that will just about break your heart, particularly if you have children of your own. In the old days, there'd be a story in the paper, a mention on TV and radio, perhaps an impromptu roadside memorial. Now the expressions of pain and joy and loss are expressed in cyberspace: on Twitter and MySpace and Facebook and on and on.

* ... MEA CULPA: Speaking of the press, I owe KGET TV an apology for an earlier post in which I accused the TV station of failing to report on its own substantial revenue problems and forced two-week furloughs for its employees. John Pilios, longtime news director over there, called me on the carpet and insisted they ran a piece on it last Friday at 5 p.m. I sure didn't see it and he conceded they didn't run it at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., and failed to post it on the KGET website. One thing about John Pilios: he's a man of his word and after he dressed me down, he made sure the story was posted on their website. But by any account, I got it wrong. Mea culpa.


Unknown said...

The name rings a bell, the picture looks familiar..then I look at the MySpace and realize I know who this is. Carey is an old daycare parent of mine from many years ago.
This is so sad, for her whole family, and especially her daughter and son.

Rachel Legan said...

Hi Richard,

In the past I have been told that I was being morbid for going to the net and seeing if I could find a picture of someone I had read about in the news.This story is a tragic one and as you said it will not be the last.There is a memorial website called (of all things) This site cropped up shortly after the invention of myspace as a way for today's kids to say goodbye.

Richard Beene said...

I don't think it's morbid at all and these postings are merely a reflection of how once intensely personal feelings (utter joy, loss, mourning, musings) are now being shared freely and openly on digital social media platforms. Thanks for sharing.

sneezlin@yahoo said...

Richard, I've been a reader for a little while but this is the first time that I've commented. The web has become so social in nature that we can't help but share and connect in any way that we can. Is it a bad thing? Surely it's not. Not long ago I heard of a friend/aquantance that was in a bad motorcycle accident and was in critical condition. Did I get a phone call? No. Email? Nope. Instead I heard about it through twitter from a mutual friend. Not only that, but I was kept informed as his condition slowly got better.

You need only to look at the likes of Trent Reznor using social media (twitter) to raise over $850,000 for a fan in need.

I think this Social Media thing can really do a lot of good for all of us.

Great post!

Richard Beene said...

Thanks for the post and thanks for following the blog. I agree completely. The utility of social media to connect is powerful. You see it in the communities of interest that form on Facebook and the niche tribes that form around blogs and narrowly defined topics followed on Twitter. Amazing stuff.