OLIVER: Despite social media response, death is no laughing matter

I’m not sure when I first understood what death was.

It could’ve been when my goldfish, the late, great Michael Jordan, died, or when I found my hamster “napping” in his cage. Either way, I was devastated. Fast forward some 15 years after dealing with many losses and I can still say death is never easy.

That’s why when I went on Twitter the other night and saw that Fast and Furious star Paul Walker died, I was a little upset. Not because I was a huge fan of Walker, but mostly because of the various tasteless jokes being made at his expense.

His career consisted of making a bunch of movies about racing cars and he died in a car crash. It’s ironic, but it’s certainly not funny.

Walker was one of the good guys of Hollywood. He was a dedicated family man and a genuinely good person. There shouldn’t be any jokes made about his life or his death. The people making the jokes didn’t know Walker, and I can assure you the people who did know him are hardly in a joking mood.

That said I have to play devil’s advocate. Paul Walker wasn’t a major star. He did act in a lot of movies, but he didn’t have the status that Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks have. Why do we care so much?

People die everyday, and most deaths go unnoticed by the media. Murder, genocide, suicide, AIDS, cancer, car crashes; these deaths occur in record numbers, but when was the last time someone took a moment to talk about one of them?

The general attitude toward death needs to change. First, we have to remember that when someone dies, somebody else is having the worst day of their life. Paul Walker was loved, and he left behind a family that now has to pick up the pieces and move on without him. That’s never an easy task to do regardless of how much support you have. It doesn’t need to be televised or tweeted.

Second, we need to raise awareness about the problems that are rapidly wiping out portions of society. Let’s stop focusing on the individual occurrences and start talking about the problems that our society faces.

We can’t fix a major problem if all we do is treat the minor ones. People die everyday from various causes. If we try to fight all of them individually, it’s a cause that will surely fail. But if we make moves to fight them collectively and succeed, the individual problems would no longer be problems.

So goodbye, Paul Walker. Your movies were always entertaining, and I know your family will miss you greatly. I hope for your family’s sake that the media lets them find the peace they are looking for.

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