death and all his friends

One of my all time favourite TV shows is Bones. (You know the one about a forensic anthropologist and an FBI agent; it’s a crime-investigative show, like CSI but funnier in parts) I’ve always liked Temperance Brennan for her methodical thinking and her independence; I still do. The character portrayed on TV is very different from Kathy Reichs’s books but I must say, I like both versions equally.

Anyway, my favourite episode by far was from Season 6 of Bones, the 9th episode: “The Doctor in the Photo”. The case revolved around the discovery of the skeletal remains of a surgeon whose personality reflected Brennan’s. No one cared enough to ask about her disappearance because of the way she was: cold, indifferent (it seemed). So, her body laid rotting at a base of a tree until an accident uncovers it. This episode was told from Brennan’s point of view, much to the delight of the fans, as she has her world turned upside down by relating to the victim.

One of the most poignant scenes in this episode, which is my main point, is when Brennan and Booth (the FBI agent) meet the victim’s boss. When asked why they never heard a big fuss over the surgeon going missing, the hospital director mentioned that his employee never had anyone in her personal life. Part of his answer was this :

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust; T.S.Elliot.” We don’t actually fear death. We fear that no one will notice our absence, that we will disappear without a trace.

Now think about that.

Like I’ve said before, humans look for a sense of belonging, to know that someone out there cares for them. But what if there isn’t? What if you can disappear and no one would notice?

You know how we follow people on Twitter or stalk them on Facebook? Technology has made it so easy for us to “keep up” with our friends. But how often does that “keeping up” really mean anything? How is clicking ‘LIKE’ on someone’s status the same as giving that person a call and asking him/her ‘How are you doing?’. If that simple tap of the mouse is not an impetus for a longer, meaningful conversation, what is the point of it? What’s the point of the artificial life we lead online when in reality, we’re the furthest apart.

Do you know whom you’re really connecting with online? The people whose lives you follow. Not the people whose names you never type into the SEARCH row. Not the former classmates you never want to speak to ever again. Not the seniors who barely know your name. Not the 200 people on your list of friends that you never bother to say ‘Hello’ to.

If a person you follow on Twitter stopped tweeting,
If a supposed friend on Facebook deactivated their page,
If a person you subscribe to stopped writing or posting on their blogs,
would you notice?

And more importantly, would anyone notice your absence.

We sometimes see stories of people who’ve run away from home, who’ve gone missing. I’m not talking about those who were taken away against their will or ran to escape horrors. I’m talking about those who leave their homes or their lives because they feel empty. I like to think these people run away to see if anyone would care, if anyone would notice that they’re gone. Heck, I’ve been tempted to do that myself sometimes. Because what is the point of living if no one knows you’re there? What’s the point of being somewhere, if you’ve not made an big enough impact to the lives of others that they would see you, that they would acknowledge you?

At the end of The Doctor in the Photo, Brennan realises though the victim and her are quite similar, there is one key difference; Brennan has friends. She has people who love her and care enough about her to notice when she’s gone. I like to think that we all have that. That the people in our lives aren’t simply HTML coding that’s being passed through virtual space. I like to think that the people I care about, the people I invest in emotionally, care enough about me to notice when I’m missing. To notice when I’m different. To notice me.

But how do you ever know until you’re gone?

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