There Are Real People Behind The Headlines

Social media has come to redefine our interpersonal relationships today. Never has this been more apparent than what I’ve seen yesterday.

Due to my own life struggles, I am notorious for not keeping in contact with people. I think of them often, but I can’t bring myself to actually call, write, and most certainly not visit. Therefore for me, social media is a great way for people to realize that I haven’t completely fallen off of the face of the earth. It is also a false comfort that I am keeping updated on people; on what is going on in their lives. Because believe it or not, I do care.

The happy posts are a dime a dozen. So I was unbearably shocked when I discovered that the son of friends of mine was found dead in Israel. David M. Gordon had made aliyah to Israel and was serving in the IDF. That was really the extent of what I knew prior to this week. I had missed earlier posts on Sunday/Monday asking for prayers because he was missing. At that time, there was a lot of speculation and, gratefully, many people offering to pray for his safe return.

Then the ominous update from his sister…David’s body was found, he was dead.

It was like Robin Williams again…but so much worse; because I knew this young man. I didn’t know him well, but I shared several meals and holidays with him. I know that he was personable, intelligent and a proud Jew. The Jewish people have lost a very special soul. As I tried to grapple with this, his picture kept popping up over, and over again across various social media platforms. There were condolences offered, yes. But there was also a lot of comments and speculation. The anti-zionist/anti-Israel crowd popped up and said the most disguising things (which I will not repeat or link). Others wanted to know more details than the news outlets were giving. They wanted details, and they wanted them pronto. Without hesitation, news outlets published his social media posts and the URL to his blog. While it might be a good FYI for later, I could not bring myself to click on the links and act as a voyeur into the personal life and musings of someone who is no longer with us. It doesn’t matter in the least that these things are freely available to us. I know more than anyone that what you publish online does not represent you well as a complete person. Reading about someone via social media or blogs does not give you the right to feel like you know/knew that person.

In the meantime, my thoughts rested on his family…who is chock full of wonderful people. It raises the age-old question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Not that anyone deserves to lose a child, but the Gordons especially didn’t. But in addition to the paralyzing grief that they undoubtedly have been struck with, they also need to deal with very public speculations and discussions regarding the circumstances of David’s death. As if any of this is going to bring him back. Grief is powerful; it can be crippling. And that is under normal circumstances. I plead to anyone and everyone reading this that whatever you do in regards to the discussion of this tragedy, that you keep his family in mind.

David’s life was not a bed of roses. However during this trying time, we need to work to perpetuate the good and celebrate what he did accomplish during this short stint in this world. I have complete faith that no one escapes the abuse that they impart on others. What goes around comes around. However I, nor anyone else has any control over that process. What we do have control of is supporting and helping those who are left behind. Family, friends, peers, etc. Be mindful of them. Recognize that not only has David died, but a part of them has died as well. Their hopes and dreams for him…the great potential that was within…and the blank slate that is the future that David will no longer be there to contribute to.

So for the Gordon & Elias families, all I can offer is:

ברוך דין האמת

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

(May God forgive me for any insensitivities that I have imparted, willingly and unwillingly, to anyone out there…)