A Southwest Airlines 737 flying from Phoenix to Sacramento was forced to make an emergency landing in early April, 2011. A five foot hole ripped in the plane’s skin due to metal fatigue. Luckily, the plane landed and all the passengers were alright.
None of the people boarding that plane knew they were actually bound for existential post-modernism.
A passenger on that plane, named Shawna Malvini Redden, had a cell phone. She has a Twitter account. She had internet access. She was embracing death.
What did she do? Malvini Redden decided to take some photos and send some tweets. While still on the plane, she was even able to communicate with CNN that it was okay for the news outlet to use her Twitter photos.
This highlights a frightening yet plausible possibility. For the first time in history, the technology is here to enable anybody to die in real time in front of a mass audience. Perhaps soon, there will be a Twitter hashtag called #dying. Of course, cancer and Alzheimers would be rather boring for the morbid followers of this feed. They may feel that plane crashes and sinking boats and burning buildings work better for the speed of light internet.
Malvini Redden is the wife of a pilot and a PhD candidate. I’m glad to see her well.
What else could she have done in those terrifying moments but reach out through cyberspace?
Let’s put aside all the theories of carnal bloodlust in modern society. There may be a plus side to this. In that moment, when everything is wrong and the end seems imminent, people will be able to turn to the internet, connect to people for a few last moments, and know they are not fully alone.