There’s a lot of us on here been expressing our sadness and sense of loss at JtB’s departure from our company. And quite a few have said how odd it is, having only known him online, through his comments.
And yet, and yet.. in the world out there, you get to know someone from the outside-in, as it were. You know what they look like, how tall, how fat, how old, how they dress, their tone of voice, accent, way they laugh, what they smell like (if you get near enough!). And only then do you gradually get to know what they think of things – how deeply they feel about stuff – what really gets to them, what their passions are, what they know about. What they’re like inside. And you acquire some kind of relationship with them as a person, which may even inform the way you approach that physical presence.
Online, all that’s shoved into reverse. You can only get to know their insides – what they think, what they feel, what they know. If they mislead, deceive or commit other misdemeanours of truth and witness, you may be taken in – for a while. It’s a thin medium we inhabit, which means we can weave a narrative in virtually zero gravity, if we wish to. But eventually, the truth will generally out. Trolls are trolls, just because we can see them for what they are – the same goes for the occasional lunatic or brute that comes around, only to be outed and dealt with. You get to know the ringers, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. And Jen was genuinely Jen alright.
So, the substantial matter of all the shit-posting that goes on here – dealing with the world, showing it where to shove it, cheering for the good guys, pouring ordure on the bad guys, meming and all the rest of it – is accompanied by the incessant refining of our opinions and knowledge of everyone on here. We get to know people in a way you actually can’t do, in the world itself. Sometimes it is truly a shock to meet a poster in the flesh (careful, now..) – I went to the Brewery Bash, the first time a couple of years ago, and I wasn’t quite shitting myself, but I did almost turn back a couple of times on the way there. Not since I went to college and made a complete arse of myself had I been as apprehensive of meeting a bunch of people who might not just be strangers, but very strange ones as well (t worked out very well by and large, and am so glad I dared to see it through that first time).
And we, collectively, got to know Jen well – on his terms, in the way he wanted us to, warts (or stools) and all, posting about some things that I guess were really important to him – and in a way that he and we couldn’t have done perhaps in any other setting. Like the Tardis, people are often bigger on the inside than they appear on the outside – and Jen let us into there by a continuous process of negotiation, agreement, name-calling, spats, and shared witnessing of world events.
So when Swiss Bob sends those flowers, it will mean something special to us, and perhaps to Jen’s memory – our recollections of his online life spilled out, sometimes spat out as comments that would literally never be read, the Quest for the Holy Mug, the Belief in Beryl, the Expertise on Stools, all so willingly shared.
RIP, unless you feel like writing a ‘Postcard From’ wherever you get to.
If any of you would like to attend the funeral please get in touch as soon as possible. I want to check numbers with Mrs JtB and don’t want to bother her more than necessary. It will be in Derbyshire, west of Sheffield. I will send out details to those attending in the next day, or so.
Myself and others thought it might be nice to give Mrs JtB some of our (suitable) memories of him. Augustus Caesar tried to go through the comments on his memorial thread but she concluded most were perhaps a little personal to us. If you’d like to contribute I have opened a topic on the forum where you can post them and I can find them without dredging through Disqus. Funeral for Jen the Blue
PS One of us will be undergoing major surgery tomorrow. Please say a little prayer for him.