Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The King of Pop Returns or How I'm Helping Break the Internet Again by Blogging Right After Jackson's Memorial

Yes, I got sucked into the media coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial today. Partly because I'm at work and have nothing better to do, but also because it feels like a moment you should witness. I've always been this way: aware of the aftermath, aware of the moments you want to take notice of and remember. For example, on the day of  the Oklahoma City bombing I carefully tucked away my parents' newspaper and have it in a box in a closet somewhere to this very day. I was 12. When Seinfeld aired their last episode I grabbed the TV Guide and hid it away. When 9/11 happened I carefully took note of every detail of how I found out and told myself this will be a moment they will ask about. Who is they? Well...anyone I guess. It's like the question where were you when Kennedy was shot? By the way Kennedy was shot on November 22, which is my birthday, just a different year, but that's not the point. The point is I feel the need to be a part of these moments and be aware of them, but as an outsider of sorts. 

Jackson was a great musician and I enjoyed much of his music, but I wasn't a huge fan. I have no serious ties to him. I did feel for him and as I wrote in an earlier post I think he was treated unfairly, but I have no other stake in his death. But watching his memorial seemed like the right thing to do, and the rest of my office seemed to agree, though some were making ridiculous comments and I was glad I had headphones. I was actually  impressed  and moved by the ceremony. It was respectful and nicely done and reminded the world that Michael Jackson cared for people and did amazing things with his time and money. 

I watched it through the CNN live feed with Facebook scrolling down the side, which I have to say was unpleasantly fascinating. The live feed constantly updates statuses from people on Facebook who are watching. This provided a mixture of responses. Many announced every time they broke into tears, others asked stupid questions or made snide comments or jokes, but most had one thing in common: poor spelling and improper grammar. 

This communal watching experience via the internet is something I'm undecided about (I also did it for Obama's inauguration). It feels very disconnected yet connected all the same, which is the great puzzle of the internet: are we getting closer or farther apart? In many ways I felt more connected to the experience by watching it online than watching it alone on TV, but at times it made the experience less genuine because everyone was trying to make their point and commentary on the event, most of which seemed invalid or jokey. Maybe I don't need or want to read everything everyone is thinking.

As the memorial continued I also checked Twitter (my new obsession), which of course was overloaded with too many tweets. It seems if nothing else Jackson has proved that he is not only the king of pop but also the king of clogging up the internet. 

-Stephen (Doing My Part)

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