I found out yesterday that justpat has died.
Someone I have “known” and liked for 30 years or more.
From the social media descriptions, sounds like he may have been one of those indirect pandemic victims: He developed an infection after an emergency hernia operation that rapidly developed into a systemic infection, which necessitated intubating him and moving him to the ICU.
Then he needed a second operation—but they kept putting the operation off because Not Enough Medical Resources, and he wasn’t stable enough to be moved safely from the Level II Trauma Center.
Six days after he was first intubated, they finally attempted the second surgery—but by then his lungs had deteriorated to the point where he had major breathing problems, so they stopped mid-operation.
They attempted to stabilize him—paralysis and ventilator. (In my day, they used pavulon, but I imagine they use something else now.)
Six days later, they unplugged the ventilator.
Because he had no more brain activity.
I need to update my medical directive so that it contains the following instructions: Under no circumstances whatsoever are you to ever put me on a ventilator because the medical establishment will pretend it’s an interim step, but the medical establishment is a bunch of soul-sucking, money-grubbing liars.
Can you “know” someone you’ve only ever interacted with online?
I go back and forth on that one, but most of the time, my answer is, No.
I mean, you can certainly appreciate people you’ve only ever interacted with online. Develop emotions about them, strong emotions sometimes, that resemble affection, even love. (I don’t think hate—when you hate someone you only know online, I suspect you’re mostly projecting.)
But what you’re reacting to is a curated version of that person. A bloodless simulacrum.
It’s easy enough to become obsessed at various levels with simulacrums.
But I don’t think that kind of obsession translates as “knowing.”
I have ended up developing genuine friendships with many people I first encountered online, but in every case, I’ve met those people at least once in the real world.
In Edwardian times, it was not uncommon for people to develop complex epistolary friendships. Internet friendships to my mind have a lot in common with those epistolary friendships. They offer intimacy without familiarity, and that can be very attractive because as St. Augustine was the first to tell us, familiaritas parit contemptum.
But I think you need at least some familiarity to stake a claim to real acquaintance. Due diligence, you know? Just to make sure that person you’re baring your soul to isn’t really a Laborador retriever. Or George R.R. Martin’s Pear-Shaped Man.
Anyway, justpat. A genuine mensch. So droll, so generous, so endlessly curious with an impressive roll of publications in some impressively titled publications, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Scientific American, Wired, The New York Times.
He wrote books, too: The Science of Battlestar Galactica; This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?: From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets of What's Inside Everyday Products.
His purview was popularized science.
I never met justpat in real life, so I’m not sure I can really say I “knew” him.
But we interacted on the Well for 15 years or so. And on LJ. And then on Facebook. And we shared a birthday and PatDi_ nomenclature, so that every time April 11th rolled around, we’d wish each other, Many happy returns, and comment on our kinda/sorta cosmic twinship.
He was a great guy.
And I am feeling genuinely sad this morning. Crossposted from Dreamwidth.