Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Odd Event

Friday morning, April 24, I logged on to check my e-mail and found the strangest e-mail I've ever received. Phil Nel, an author and member of an internet children's literature group to which we both contribute, wrote that in my biography on Wikipeida it stated that I had died "peacefully" in my sleep at 6:15 that morning. Though Phil admitted feeling a little odd e-mailing me, I am grateful he did so instead of accepting what he read as fact and telling others.

I went to my biography on Wikipedia and read about my "death". My very first response was to wonder if I had died and hadn't gotten the news yet. Who knows what it's like to be dead? I thought about the old philosophical question: Am I a butterfly dreaming that I am me? I asked my wife to read this "news" of my "death" and her doing so confirmed that I was, indeed, still alive.

I deleted the paragraph describing my "death", though I was touched by the last line which read, "He will be missed by all." I read through my Wikipedia bio and restored verbs to present tense that had been changed to past. Then I e-mailed my children and told them what had happened, in case someone offered them condolences on my "death."

Some might think it would be upsetting to read of one's death. It wasn't for me. I was more baffled than anything else. Why would someone choose me for such a prank? I am not famous enough that news of my death will make the front pages of newspapers or cause television networks to interrupt regular programming to announce it. However, the real negative about this false report of my death is that should I die in the next few weeks, no one will believe it.

The person who perpetrated this obviously does not know me, because I do not want to die in my sleep. I want to know that I am dying; I want the experience of watching death approach -- if that's what happens. To die in your sleep is, I suppose, easy and painless but if I have to suffer pain to know that I am dying, I will choose the pain. However, it would be even more painful to be dying and know that I won't have the chance to write about it. Maybe dying in my sleep isn't so bad after all.

I am glad that I do not allow unmoderated comments on this blog. It would be all too easy for someone to post false information here. And, over the past almost two months I have received "comments" for the blog that have been entirely in Chinese or Japanese characters from "Anonymous". They automatically go to my spam folder, but perhaps "Anonymous" got tired of being ignored by me and "killed me off".

One lesson from this is be careful using Wikipedia. Another is to emulate Phil Nel, and check your information before passing it onto others.

As to my silence since my blog post of March 1, I haven't felt like talking and, I will now return to that silence.

Julius Lester


Jonathan Shaw said...

Delighted to hear of your continued life, Julius, without having the pain of hearing the other first.

EnnaVic said...

Made me think of Twain (paraphrased slightly).

Reports of death have been greatly exaggerated.


I'm glad about that :)

Agree with you about Obama in more recent post - he has a lot of expectations on him and has to be pragmatic. If he accomplishes some healing both within and without the US that in itself will be a great legacy. So far he is doing well.