Status Update: Dead

Dislike: Hearing about dead loved ones from FB (courtesy of Kommein)

Imagine that you’re sitting at breakfast, home alone, gnawing on an English muffin, when your phone rings. It’s your brother.

“I’m so sorry,” he tells you, weepy sympathy oozing through the speaker. “I just saw on Facebook where your husband hung himself.”

Shocking, isn’t it? Well that’s exactly what happened to Samantha Starr of Prince George County, Virginia earlier this week.

Her husband Victor was arrested in May after they had a domestic dispute and was sitting in Riverside Regional Jail. The charges against him included arson, grand larceny, breaking and entering, and firearms and drugs charges to boot. And according to his family members, Victor faced a host of “personal demons.”

They haunted him so much that he hung himself in his jail cell a week ago and after only one month of incarceration. Unfortunately, Samantha was not contacted when it happened around 6:15 that fateful Sunday morning. Instead, she learned about it a few hours later from her brother, who first saw it posted on that social media giant, Facebook.

And that’s just wrong.

“I’m outraged,” Samantha said of her treatment by jail officials. “Families need to be contacted before anything is leaked. Whether it’s an inmate or whether it’s a corrections officer. I should have been notified one way or another, without Facebook.”

Alas, there’s the rub, poor Samantha. The phrase without Facebook is losing all meaning because life without it would be unlivable, or so “they” would like you to believe.

The truth is that no, you should not have heard of your husband’s suicide through social media of any kind. And in the world before Facebook, cell phones, tablets and every other electronic gizmo or technological “advance” we find to fill the voids in our lives, this never would have happened. Or if it had, it would have taken a lot more doing.

Someone would have to smuggle out a note from an inmate—perhaps lodged in some uncomfortable orifice—and deliver it to a contact on the outside who would tell his friends, who would then tell their friends, and so on and so forth.

VIctor Starr (PHOTO: Riveride Regional Jail)

Victor Starr (courtesy of Riverside Regional Jail)

In other words, the news of Victor’s suicide would spread like a venereal disease, with each person passing it secretly to the next.

That or some loose-lipped guard would hit the bar after his shift, down one too many Long Island Iced Teas and start blabbing to anyone who listened.

Either way, it would take a miracle for the news to reach everyone but Samantha Starr. And by the time it finally did, the grapevine would have been surpassed by official notice from the jail, to be sure.

Not so where technology and social media are concerned. For all we know, one of the inmates accessed a library computer and found a way to post directly from “the clink.” Yes, you would expect there to be some online restrictions in place—so an inmate couldn’t start a revolution while behind bars or something—but these safeguards often fail at the most inopportune times. Why should this be any different?

Sadly, there is nothing to be done now. Samantha knows her husband is dead and regardless of how she obtained this information, the end result is the same. I hate it for her, but not as much as she hates it for her husband. And who could blame her?

“Be Victor a monster or be he not one,” Samantha said recently. “He still deserves some respect.”

You have to admit, she has a way with words.

Posted on June 25, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Social Media is rewriting all the rules… Not always for the best either…

  2. I have mixed feelings about the events and many concepts involved here. It’s bad as to what happened, yes, but on the other hand, I hate the media… Maybe social media will put these money-hungry newspapers out of business.

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