The power of online video was reaffirmed recently by the deaths of two men who chose to use the medium as a documented expression of thoughts that we take for granted in everyday life. One week before Ben Breedlove’s passing on Christmas Day, he posted two videos expressing his run-ins with death and his faith in the afterlife through a series of text on flash cards. These flash cards describe what seems to be gratitude for living as long as he did. He had fought the battles with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and with his belief that a better place was waiting for him, was ready to move on.
Another man, Kristian Anderson, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and nearly a year later, also expressed himself through text on cards, for his wife Rachel’s birthday. Anderson’s video made clear what he probably said many times, was probably a well-known fact: he loved his wife and kids and he planned on never giving up. It’s amazing to me how video drives that home, how it’s a permanent document, how it turns words that pass through the air and drift into the past into something that is always in the present. You just press play.
Video Can Break Hearts, But Provide Living Documents
Many of you have heard the story of 18-year-old Ben Breedlove over the past few days. Here are the two videos he made, which can be a sad reminder of his death, especially with the use of the instrumental from Michael Andrews and Gary Jules’ cover of “Mad World.” Yet, it’s uplifting with the attitude he brings to what he feels is imminent.
And here’s Part 2:
Kristian Anderson, 36, died in Manly, New South Wales, Australia this morning. His video has appearances from New Zealand’s prime minister John Key and Australian actor Hugh Jackman. It also contains a song, “Marry Me,” from Train, that can alternate between happy and sad depending on whether you’re focusing on the positive or negative.
These two men never say one word. I tend to believe it’s more effective that way. We don’t have the ability interpret inflections from their voices to distort their meaning. The words are simple facts. This is what these people wanted to make sure they said before they left this world, and they made it count. The videos can be seen by millions of people for as long as there is an Internet. “This is how I chose to live. What words would you express before you die?”
While many of you will just find all of this depressing, and many will find it uplifting, and some will come to the conclusion that both are true, it goes to show that there is more to online video than cat antics and babies laughing. These men went with dignity. These people still live.