I’m not a fan of Flat Earth-ism at all. But I was a fan of “Mad” Mike Hughes. And I’m not talking about “Mad” Mike Hughes the Flat-Earther, I’m talking about “Mad” Mike Hughes the Daredevil. Sure they’re one in the same, but I definitely had some respect for a man who spent much of his life performing wild & crazy stunts and even landed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest limousine ramp jump in 2002.
“Mad” Mike Hughes the Daredevil
It’s probably safe to say that Hughes went out the way any daredevil wants to go: in a glorious attempt to do something death defying. However, what I really wanted to write about wasn’t necessarily his death, the Associated Press has already handled that. What I wanted to talk about was something else – the ugly response to it on Twitter.
Our Ugly Online Personas
I saw the uncut video of “Mad” Mike’s plummet back to earth before anyone even knew he was dead. Freelance journalist, Justin Chapman, was on the scene for the launch and posted the video to Twitter pretty much as soon as it happened.
Immediately, the comment replies were pouring in. And it wasn’t pretty. Aside from a small number of Twitter users who seemed legitimately concerned about his death, there were essentially 2 other types of responses to this video and the news of Hughes’ death.
Jokes – Not Cool
If you wanna go view the tweet yourself and see the jokes, that’s fine – but I’m not posting them here. Everything from making fun of his Flat Earth beliefs to jokes about politics rolled in. Literally within minutes of a man dying in front of his family.
Media Wanting a Piece
Within minutes of the the tweeted video, media outlets were asking for permission to use it.
Now, I know this is some hypocrisy on my part because I’m also talking about it, on a for-profit website – that being said, I felt the desire to write about it because the response to his death really triggered me.
Who Are we in Our Online Personas?
I can’t imagine the sadness being felt by the friends and family of “Mad” Mike Hughes. Heck, I didn’t know the guy personally and I’m upset about it. Put the Flat Earth stuff aside and he was just a cool dude who wanted to do cool stuff.
So maybe it’s time we rethink what we’d really say if we were there witnessing the end of a man’s life. The world needs kinder and more compassionate people. Let’s stop forgetting that when we get behind our screens, we should still avoid saying things that would get us punched in the face if we said them in person.
Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He's also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover band, Liquifaction.