David Veverka was one of my first friends on facebook. These days I don’t know the majority of the people I’m connected to, but back in 2005, it was just a small network of folks who were really friends. He’s had this profile picture up for three years, but it’s a good choice considering he pursued marine mammalogy. We met when I was in graduate school at UMaine because David ran the Society for Conservation Biology. He had a coveted NSF Fellowship and was also the only person who volunteered to help dissect sea cucumbers for my thesis research. The other lab assistants were work study students, but David just thought cukes were interesting and wanted to learn more about them–despite that it involved a three hour commute to the marine lab. Needless to say that even back then, I knew he would go on change the world by saving biodiversity and educating the next generation about why it matters.
But on May 8, 2006, the makeshift bomb that exploded near his truck in Iraq didn’t know what he was supposed to go on and accomplish. Neither did the people who built it.
David lives on in the hearts and memories of those he touched. He also still lives on the internet. Facebook continues to alert me about his birthday and his photo often appears on the left side of my screen. His profile remains static–aside from an occasional wall message–while I’ve aged three years and changed a great deal. And in many ways my page has documented the transition from sea cucumbers to science policy and journalism.
For centuries, people have pieced together the past through art, oral tradition, yellowing photographs, and fading print. In my own family, much of the story has been lost. Today, social networking sites allow us to leave deeper footprints behind. We’ve only been walking this boundless beach for a short time, but I wonder how the space will evolve as the internet generation matures. We’re already living on and in the net, and when we leave this world, we no longer cease to exist. Perhaps someday my great-grandchild will explore the ancient technology of the 21st century and find The Intersection while searching for clues about me. And sure, servers go down, systems crash, and it won’t be long before my macbook air becomes obsolete. But like David, many of us are leaving a virtual bookmark in time.
Links to this Post
- Gabo López Calva :: Lost loved ones in Facebook :: April :: 2009 | April 22, 2009
- Pictures of You: Internet Immortality | The Starnes | April 22, 2009
- On Motherhood, Identity, And Feminism | The Intersection | Discover Magazine | May 21, 2009