Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Passing Of Internet Personalities

This is one of those things that it might be smart of me to leave alone, but at the same time, I have a sense that doing the smart thing right now would not be, well, a smart thing.

When I heard about the unfortunate and very untimely death of Internet personality Justin “JewWario” Carmical, I realized that there was going to be a rather unfortunate theme for 2014: the loss of Web entertainers. I know I've got some explaining to do on this one, and believe me, I'll do the best I can to that regard in a bit. But before that, here's an explanation before my explanation.

To begin, I'd put a second jump in here someplace if I could, but since I'm not exactly an expert with Blogger, Tumblr, or any of the other sites I'll potentially be posting this to, I'll go for buffer space instead. It's been awhile since I've tried to do that, so I don't know how well this will work out.

We all have topics that we shouldn't be ones to talk about, due to lack of experience or knowledge or some such thing. I'm sure I've got more of them than I know, but that's for another time. And in this case, I'm also going to try to be as clear as I can about it. I usually go for at least some objectivity, too, but I'm not sure if that's really all that possible in this case.

With all that said, I suppose I had better just get on with it. So for better or worse, here we go.

Within the last six weeks, more or less, two prominent members or former members of Internet communities I'm a part of have committed suicide. I'm not going to pass judgment or claim to know the reasons why. All I know is what I've read and heard in the announcements and memorials made by the people who were closer to them than I could ever have hoped to be. I'm not going to ask for more because it's not my place. I only knew these men well enough to recognize their names when I saw them around. I hardly ever watched any of their work. That last sentence ties into where I'm going with this, eventually. I'm sure we'll get there soon enough, but I suspect it'll be longer than I intend, as well.

I'm going to do this in chronological order, which means starting with Slightly Amiss, of the Let's Play group County Line Gaming, whose web site can be found here. Word of his passing reached the group on December 8th, 2013, and it was said that he had taken his own life. Although I'd never personally interacted with Amiss, as many of us knew him, and watched perhaps only enough of his videos to count on one hand, as I read and listened to the parting memories of those that had known him, I came to realize that the core members of CLG, for sure, and the community as a whole would be deeply impacted by this loss. It wasn't just the sudden and permanent loss of a contributor. The founders and core members of the group, and I'm sure quite a few of my fellow community members, had lost a friend as well.

A comment I had left on a primarily audio memorial by Apple, one of the group's founders, was that I felt, and really, kind of do feel, kind of bad about not having watched more of Amiss's work when he was still around to do it. I'm sure I'm like a lot of Let's Play fans out there in that there are only a very select few we can stand to watch, and that's something that varies by person. Amiss might have been one of my favorites, had I watched more of his stuff than I did.

And then we come to the fresh one, from just this weekend. Mr. Justin “JewWario” Carmical. I had watched some of his stuff when he was on That Guy With The Glasses, but mostly, I'd seen him in the Channel Awesome anniversary movies. As I read the news of his death, it took me a minute to even realize that they were saying he was dead. It was mostly shock, sure, but not for reasons one might expect.

You see, as I read these memorials to Mr. Carmical, my initial thoughts were “Wait, he's gone now? What happened? Isn't he a little young for that?” From my limited exposure to his work, I saw a man who was very much like my cousin Timmy. I can describe both as “chronically youthful” men who have, or in the case of J-Dub, as his friends called him, had decidedly playful senses of humor who had knacks for entertaining people. Those similar character traits led me to think that they were even pretty much the same age, in their early 30s. Even if I was off by ten years in Mr. Carmical's case, he was still far too young to go.

Another gaming-related community I'm a part of has suffered the untimely loss of a contributor to his own hand. I was vaguely aware of what he did in his videos. I'd seen a few in his “You Can Play This” series, and I know that just after he left That Guy, he had started doing food videos, as well. The last one I remember watching was on the proper way to cut an onion. It was an interesting video, and I'd always intended to make time to watch more, but never quite got around to it.

Here's where we get to what I was saying before having hardly ever watched any of either of these men's videos. In both cases, when I'd learned that these were suicides, the little guilt-trip voice in the back of my head started telling me that if I'd only watched and commented on more of their videos, they might not have done this. In general, I know that it's 99.9% not true to think that, because these celebrities are just like everybody else. There's always more to their lives than most of the world will ever know. As such, I'm almost certain I'm not selling myself short when I say that views and comments from me could have done much, if anything, to change these outcomes.

Even still, I would have liked to watch more of these men's work when they were alive, just so I could have gotten a little more familiar with what they did and who they were. And I'm sure the extra appreciation would have been nice for them, too.

At any rate, these gaming and entertainment communities that I so love being a part of are forever diminished now bu the premature loss of good members and contributors. I feel bad about not watching these men's work while they were alive, and I fear I may never have a chance to find out what I missed.

So, J-Dub, Amiss, don't know if you guys can see this wherever it is you are now, but I want you to know that you're both missed at That Guy and CLG, and that one of my regrets is that I never did get around to watching your stuff. I'm not sure how much that might mean coming from someone who's essentially just a fringe fan, but there you go.

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