Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Wit of Swift Is Silenced

May you live every day of your life.
Jonathan Swift

Tom Watson shared the sad news today that our fellow blogger Jon Swift died of complications of suffering two sudden aortic aneurysms while on his way to his father’s funeral in Virginia. He was 46. He had indeed exercised the satirical wit, piercing intelligence, and quiet largesse of heart of his chosen online identity and truly lived every day, until they unexpectedly stopped.

I met Jon through Tom’s newcritics gang. I won’t call him by his ‘real’ name---you can read many tributes over at Tom’s for that info—-because the times I met him in person he took the idea of the blogger persona very seriously.

It was his destiny to make Facebook safe for all of our online identities. In 2007 was thrown off of Facebook for violating their terms of service. From a Softpedia news item:

"Fake accounts are a violation of our Terms of Use. Facebook requires users to provide their real first and last names. Impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reactivate this account for any reason. This decision is final", the email read, according to the blogger [Swift].

Woah. Thems were fightin' words. Jon would not stand for this. Friends created a “Let Jon Swift Back into Facebook” page, and there was an avalanche of articles written in support of him.

It wasn’t fraud because he created Jon Swift and he is Jon Swift. And lo and behold, he received another nameless email from Facebook, and he was reinstated, making it safe for the M.A. Peels and Lance Mannions of the world.

Of course he was much, much more than that. As one of his oldest friends, Jason Chervokas writes, his success as a “big blogger” didn’t protect him from struggles and doubts.

"As love without esteem is capricious and volatile; esteem without love is languid and cold."
Jonathan Swift

One can only hope that in the esteem he found through the talents of his writing, he also got to enjoy the love and affection his commenters so obviously felt for him.