If you use Twitter on a regular basis, you'll notice a curious affectation of people when it comes to death. The moment a celebrity dies, the news surges across Twitter like a tiny, morbid tsunami, and you can watch it all happen in real time. At the beginning of May, Chris Kelly of the '90s rap group Kriss Kross died, and the subject was trending on Twitter for two days. Thousands tweeted their condolences to whomever they think it is who reads their Twitter feed who might be checking up on how we respond to pseudo-celebrity deaths and then the rest of us arched an eyebrow and went back to playing Xbox.
Kriss Kross had a handful of hits in 1992. That was over 20 years ago. Two really big singles and something about missing a bus. Between then and now, few if any people probably had any idea what the two guys from the group were up to, and they were mostly a footnote to history as the goofy kids who wore their clothes backward in one of the lamest attempts at creating a fashion trend ever.
If "Warm It Up" touched your heart in some way, if you lost your virginity to the song, if it was playing when you overthrew the puppet regime that was destroying your little island nation, whatever, then it's totally understandable that you might feel something at the loss of one of the musicians behind it. And it's totally OK if you never even heard of Kriss Kross and you still offered up a message of sympathy for his family just because you feel for the loss of human life in general. But by the same token, you shouldn't feel bad if you don't feel bad. Did that make sense? It better, or you're going to feel so bad.
"Start feelin' bad or I'll tell ya about my prostate!"
There's a kind of weird social pressure when someone dies -- either on a grand scale as it relates to a celebrity, or on a smaller scale when it's someone in your own circle of friends and family -- that makes it seem like you need to express remorse and sympathy, and it gets pretty awkward if you don't actually feel those things. If it's a family member, shit gets downright ugly if you seem to not particularly care. But it happens, and it doesn't always make you a monster.
The thing not a lot of people appreciate is that sometimes you don't care when someone dies; you weren't that close, or maybe you just didn't like the person. "Don't speak ill of the dead" is a carryover from a bygone era, but some people are scurrilous shits, and being dead doesn't change that. If you're a rancid doucher in life, don't expect everyone to be sad when you finally kick it. In fact, some people might secretly be happy you're gone. Are a lot of people unhappy that the Boston Marathon bomber got shot? Probably not -- he didn't engender much goodwill over that last week. I'd go so far as to say that the man was a straight up turd gargler.