‘Fake facebooks’ stir real emotions

Gina Faustini

On Oct. 19, I received a text message from my sister informing me that her friend had died.

My sister’s friend took his own life at the age of 16. He was loved and adored by many; although I did not know him personally I could sense he was an admirable person. How could I tell? I looked at his Facebook page.

It seems that young, tragic death is an epidemic. If I tried to list the number of suicides or drug overdoses that have occurred recently in my hometown, I would probably run out of fingers to count them on. After each death follows a Facebook page: “R.I.P. (Insert Deceased’s Name Here).” In some instances it is a useful way for mourners to come together and reflect on time spent with the deceased, but it is also an opportunity for some hateful people on the Internet to have their fun.

My sister called me later on the same day that I received the text message and said “Look at his Facebook page.”

As soon as the “R.I.P.” page loaded, explicit pictures of Hitler, mangled African-American bodies, and the Ku Klux Klan flooded my computer screen. Because he was black, the scum of the Internet found his tragic death to be a joke.

I could not comprehend what I was seeing. “Fake Facebooks,” made by people from the popular websites eBaum’s World and 4chan, were posting racial slurs and celebrating the fact that a black person died. They are being called “fake” Facebooks because their profile pictures are cartoons or celebrities, and they have display names like “Igive Aids” and “Bob Fagget.”

According to the person who created this “R.I.P.” page, someone from a local high school in my hometown put the link on eBaum’s World and 4chan, allowing all of the “fake” users to take advantage of the page.

People that knew the deceased are fighting back, cursing out the “fake” people and saying things like “What if his family saw this?” One of the “fake” users wrote back: “Niggers have families?”

The disturbing words and images only grew worse as I scrolled through the page.

I’m not sure when it became okay to disrespect someone who cannot even defend themself, and I know for a fact that I am not the only one outraged by this. Throughout the night of Oct. 19, I saw a new Facebook status every time I loaded my page, concerning the outrage toward these “fake” Facebook users.

Mourning is a process that no one wants to have to go through. Death, especially that of a young and adored human being, is incomprehensible. Maybe making a Facebook page to commemorate this person is a good thing. People can digitally come together and have the comfort of knowing they are not the only ones hurting. In other ways, I think Facebook pages open up portals for disrespect and hatred, as explicitly shown in my sister’s friend’s “R.I.P.” page.

Maybe it is better to mourn the old-fashioned way – without the Internet and the allowance of public hatred. Or, an even better idea: end the hatred. Why is it still so common, in this day and age, for minorities to have to suffer – even after they leave this world?

What the friends and family of the deceased need to realize is that they are being upset because of some worthless, hateful trash with too much time on their hands. Why let this bother us when we know that the deceased will be forever loved and missed by his family and friends? These “fake” Facebook users did not know him.

Despite the fact I never had the pleasure of meeting my sister’s friend, this situation struck me and will stay with me forever.

We need to do something about this. Maybe QU101 actually is good for something – the questioning of morality, and how it differs among individuals. For whatever reason, people see no problem in turning suicide into a joke – in this instance just because the victim was black. As a community, his friends and family are fighting back against these ignorant people.

The Quinnipiac community is no different. You’ve probably heard it more times than you can remember, but to accept and to love could save a life. Remember this the next time you make a racial joke or say that something is “gay.”

And most importantly, let the deceased rest in peace.