One Post to Mourn Them All


One Post to Mourn Them All

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/ Arré

What an exhausting weekend it has been. “The Greatest” breathed his last. And he meant so much to so many of us, as my Facebook TL and Twitter feed bear testimony. Who knew? Quite frankly, the news of his death didn’t affect me at all. Please don’t get me wrong, but the guy meant nothing to me. Neither did I grow up watching him fight, nor was he my childhood hero whom I tried emulating.

With all due respect to everything he achieved in his lifetime, I didn’t share a personal rapport with the guy. Ali didn’t show up at my doorstep at 4 am when I was knocking back my fourth quarter and seventh slice of pizza to tell me, “It’s just a phase. You’ll be fine.” When I heard of his passing, I thought about him for a few seconds. Truth be told, I don’t know why, but I actually thought of Will Smith playing Ali for a few seconds. And then, I immediately got back to thinking about the things that actually matter to me – like, getting Arré to clear payments for my previous articles.

I have no memories attached to Ali. But from reading all the Facebook posts in the last couple of days, I somehow find it un-bloody-believable that he “deeply moved” so many people on my friend list, who were all “upset”, “sad”, and “damn sad” about his death. He apparently touched as many lives as Maya Angelou and Lemmy.

I’m sure these people will be as troubled by the next famous person’s death. But you can’t blame them. Social-media mourning is an addiction. Every time a famous person dies, I’ve noticed six kinds of social-media mourners.

1. The Like Slut
A majority of Facebookers, unfortunately, belong to this group. As soon as a celeb kicks the bucket, these chaps swing into action to get the “first-mover” advantage. They quickly put up an “RIP” and hashtag the name of the deceased personality to start milking the likes. It’s a tried and tested mathematical formula: No of likes = RIP x #(name of celeb who died) + :’(. Sometimes they could add a ?, if they’re not in a tearing hurry to get back to their game of Candy Crush.

Firstly, RIP? Come on, you don’t even have the time to type out “Rest In Peace”? The dude just died. Put yourself in the dead person’s shoes (I mean, unless the dead person is Oscar Pistorius – in which case, just put yourself on his steroids). He definitely deserves more than just a RIP, don’t you think? Would you be okay if people abbreviated their condolences when you died? And then hashtagged it with a stupid emoji? Thought not.

2. The Share Seeker
Let’s face it, it’s the Shares, not the Likes, that make you go viral. The share seeker will quickly download images of the aforementioned dead person and upload the image with the dead dude’s quote on it (Editor’s note: The author’s views do not reflect those of this organisation).

These images are then shared by friends on Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. But if they’re late to the party, and others have already shared the quotes, they could just upload the picture with a random Einstein quote on it. Because for some reason, a lot of Einstein’s quotes could somehow pass off as generic dead guy quotes. Thanks, Einstein.

3. The True Fan
Now this is the dude I feel the worst for. He’s followed Ali all his life. Watched all his videos on YouTube. Got into fights in the comments section as to why Ali was technically better than George Foreman. And then, when suddenly Ali dies, he’s competing for social-media time with people who Googled Muhammad Ali three minutes after his death.

He feels cheated. All along, he thought he was the only one. Obviously, he cries foul and goes on a rant about how everyone else is just a “fake fan” or “pseudo mourner”. But nobody listens to him. As the day progresses, he is labelled a spoilsport. So he deals with two tragedies in one day: Losing his hero and his social-media rep.

4. The Anti-Hero
Then there’s the one person who is upset with all the attention the dead celeb has been receiving. S/He always knows somebody in the same field who was more talented, died poor and went largely unrecognised (“India’s only Mr Universe died yesterday, where’re his Facebook condolences?”)

Generally, this person’s updates are quite defensive: “Don’t know why everybody is going gaga about Muhammad Ali; when the great Kinod Vambli, world-class boxer from Chembur, passed away nobody cared. He was way more talented but never got any recognition. This was because he didn’t get the right opportunities or have the marketing and PR contacts like Ali. Ali was all flash. In fact, Ali sabotaged Kinod Vambli’s career. Miss you, Kinod.”

5. The Bollywood Celeb
This is my favourite category of mourners. These chaps would’ve been present in the same room as the international dead celeb at some point in their lives. The dead celeb, of course, wouldn’t have been aware of their existence. But their updates would read like: “Oh. RIP Ali Bhai. Will always cherish the great times we enjoyed”. “Can’t believe he’s gone. Such a gentle soul. And an even better friend. Will miss you dost, see you soon! #sad #bestfriend #bff #dead”.

6. The Opportunist
This is the smartest and most conniving set. They make fun of all the mourners, hoping to get shares, likes, and subscribers. (Editor’s note: Like the guy who wrote this article). To make maximum out of such tragedies, they add clickbaity headlines such as, “Tag a friend who mourns like this” or “We all have this one friend on our friend list who does this when somebody famous dies”. Such opportunistic bastards, I tell you.

Unlike real life, on social media you don’t observe a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to the dear departed. Instead, to signify veneration you make enough of a noise for the dead. So let’s take a minute to appreciate the efforts of these social-media mourners who help trend the dead. Amen.