The media life and times of CandyJunkie

22 11 2008

This blog post is a eulogy for Abraham K. Biggs, aka CandyJunkie and Feels like Ecstasy. It is in no way my intention to belittle, aggrandize, moralize nor aggravate the human drama that unfolded. Reader discretion is advised.

In his prospectus to his latest book project, media theorist Mark Deuze observes that

key areas of human existence have converged in and through our concurrent and continuous exposure to, use of, and immersion in media, information and communication technologies.

Abraham K. Biggs’ life in media is a tragic case in point. On Nov. 19, 2008, 19 year old Abraham created a thread in the miscellaneous forum category on, announcing his intention to overdose later that day. As an alledged forum ‘troll’, Abraham’s message was received with cynicism and disbelief. In response, Abraham copy/pasted a suicide note, logged on to video service and took the pills.

The ensuing events, as pieced together by forum member Davidthefat, defy belief:

* Nov 19, 2008 5:32-5:51 AM: User izaktj reports CandyJunkie is trying to sleep. Miscers play around with the thought of calling the cops, but ultimately shrug off the issue and thread. CandyJunkie’s webcam continues to roll as he lays motionless during the 6 hours the thread is ignored.

* Nov 19, 2008 12:04 PM: User baby_matty bumps thread, stating that CandyJunkie is “still laying there.” Posters begin to suspect that CandyJunkie is no longer breathing because of the lack of movement on his webcam, pertaining to the expanding of the ribcage during respiration.

* Nov 19, 2008 1:03 PM: After alerting forum moderators, user AlexNipples receives controversial response from moderator “Roxie” regarding taking action to save CandyJunkie’s life.

* Nov 19, 2008 1:05 PM: User IVEverLow posts thread linking to CandyJunkie’s phone number. A few minutes later, user Eshamed51 calls, is forwarded to voicemail and leaves infamous message “Do it faggot.” Posters begin to discuss CandyJunkie’s lack of movement as a sign of death or drug induced coma.

* Nov 19, 2008 1:53 PM: User Bulker reports CandyJunkie’s personal information, including name and number: Abraham Briggs; 954.918.1247. Suggests that they call cops. Posters discuss the legitimacy of the broadcast, considering the possibility that the video is a still image or on a loop.

* Nov 19, 2008 2:09 PM: Users take action. Bulker sends failed email to Miami police department, posts the Miami Police department contact information and urges other posters to contact.

* Nov 19, 2008 2:32 PM: Bulker calls Miami Police department 3 times with success, but fails to convey the urgency in his message.

* Nov 19, 2008 2:41 PM: User mophatthedamaja confirms CandyJunkie’s suicide note is indeed copypasta, while Normg002 posts link to CandyJunkie’s myspace page.

* Nov 19, 2008 2:55 PM: User jjlee138 announces successful communication with police; reports they are en route to CandyJunkie’s location.

* Nov 19, 2008 3:30 PM: Live on webcam, Broward County police break down CandyJunkie’s door and secures the area for an EMT to enter. A cop covers the webcam. The broadcast ends.




6 responses

23 11 2008

This reminds me of the lady who, sometime in the 60s or 70s, was beaten to death over a prolonged period of time while neighbors watched from their windows and the street without calling the police or otherwise trying to help.

At least in her case, no one egged the situation on.

23 11 2008
Tom Van Hout

Good point. I guess it’s the anonymity and inconsequentiality of mediated interaction such as forum talk that erodes social norms of communication.

23 11 2008

In her case, we simply don’t know if anyone egged the situation on. Perhaps they did from the confines of their living room. What’s the difference if someone makes such a comment of not? It changes nothing about the anonymity and absolute consequentiality of our non-action. Reminds of the Levinas I am reading now. Ethics; responsiblity for the Other. etc.
New in the online version you report is the disbelief. How to tell “reality” from “reality” when you are online? Disbelief which leads directly to asocial norms of suspicion.

24 11 2008
Tom Van Hout

The blurring of realities is another dimension/consequence of media life. Reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s wikiality: “Together, we can create a reality that we can all agree on, the reality we just agreed on”. Mark Deuze, yes him again, would be quick to point out that Zygmunt Bauman was the first to see this “permanent impermanence” of media life coming.

9 01 2009

Yehh…. I was there… -.- On the cast. I was in several rooms at once. But… it was weird…. Kindof scaring to see something like that…

10 01 2009
Tom Van Hout

Thanks for the comment, Ashley. Did you realize what was going on at the time? Must have been a strange experience.

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