Immediately after news of the Robin Williams suicide broke, there was an outpouring of breast bearing and self-mutilation of the scalp with seashells everywhere I turned. Actually, if that was literally what I saw in response, I would have enjoyed it more because to plagiarize The Bloodhound Gang, “A lap dance is so much better when the stripper is crying.” What actually happened was prolific public emoting from an overabundance of sympathy, empathy, and good old-fashioned going along with the crowd to avoid being seen as an asshole.
Maybe I should have used a word besides “broke,” since that seems to be the emerging background. Loss of work, sudden poverty, death of a loved one, and immanent death seem to be the four big reasons a man commits suicide. I forgot pending arrest.
I’m going to risk every follower and fan I have (all fourteen of them) with today’s post, fully understanding the tsunami of opprobrium headed my way very shortly. You are likely reading the suicide note for my writing career, but as my kids say, “YOLO.”
Excluding people who at one time or another were in possession of a phone number Robin Williams would answer, who among us has any sort of connection with him that did not stem from a commercial transaction? By that I mean, he provided a product (entertainment, laughter, acting ability, etc.) and you provided him money.
If your hand is up right now, compare your connection to Mr. Williams with others in your life. Would you have been able to drop by his house and be allowed in? Perhaps you served with him on the PTA?
I would argue most people who do not pass the Telephone Test mentioned above are actually grieving at the prospect of not being able to consume the product that is Robin Williams.
“Oh, but Carlos, I have a personal connection to the issue of suicide,” many might reply. So do I. My father committed suicide three weeks before Christmas 2010, and my brother and I did not find his corpse until he had been decomposing for seventeen days. Liquefaction is the technical term. So please tell me again how I lack understanding of the subject.
The Give-a-Shit Meter registers “zero” for Robin Williams. Quite honestly, it measures the same toward you, dear reader, because we don’t share a true connection. I expect the feeling to be reciprocated. All outpourings of emotion at my eventual death are strictly prohibited. If anything, I want a liquor soaked bacchanalia with gun play, strippers, feats of strength, and midgets in tuxedos riding unicycles serving shots of tequila. Oh, and sideshow acts. I love sideshow acts.
For those with such a deep sentiment toward Robin Williams, or any other public figure, please answer the following:
1. What is the name of his dog?
2. What flavor was the cake at the last birthday party you and he attended?
3. What did you and he discuss the last time you talked on the phone?
Anyone able to answer just one of these questions is free to grieve for as long as he feels appropriate, and I will shut my pizza grinder.
Now that I have thoroughly angered everyone on the planet, I would like to make my point about celebrity, social media, and shallowness.
We feel connected and important because we have this number of followers or that number of back-links to our blog. We make friends and earn admirers halfway around world, but don’t know the names of the neighbor’s children. As a society, we can stand neither solitude nor silence. So, we fill the vacuum with ephemeral connections to people we have never met. No amount of product put out by an actor, comedian, musician, or public figure will fill the hole in someone’s heart. Whether that person lives or dies is irrelevant. Fulfill your life with those around you.