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Requiem for a Blogger: Life and death issues from beyond the Portuguese keyboard

The year of 2007 started with the Lusosphere being surprised by the announcement of the death of a well known blogger. MEG [Maria Elisa Guimarães] became famous as the editor of SubRosa, one of the first-generation blogs in Brazil, and also because of her relentless promotion of conversation among bloggers through an active and warm-hearted commenting and emailing activity. The eulogies performed throughout the Lusosphere gained a great deal of attention as MEG was darling to many of the first A-list Brazilian bloggers. Never-the-less, something peculiar about Meg's announced death kept ringing in some of her closest friends. Indeed, there was more to the story than what could be seen at first sight but Lusophone bloggers, old and new, did not hold back expressing their homages to their beloved colleague.

Na verdade, Meg, não faço a menor idéia de como começar. Na alienação imatura que só faz adiar o inadiável, eu achava que nunca precisasse escrever esse texto. E vou cair, claro, nos lugares-comuns – que na verdade acabam sendo o refúgio secreto dos que se aventuram a afetar irreverência. Vou dizer, sim, que a blogosfera perdeu toda a graça. Vou dizer, sim, que passam na tela do meu PC todos os posts onde você fazia megabytes de propaganda carinhosa de blogueiros que, segundo você, valiam a pena ser lidos – e que depois disso deixaram definitivamente o anonimato internético.
MEGAo Mirante, Nélson

To be truthful, Meg, I don't have the faintest idea of how to start. From the immature alienation that makes me try to postpone the inevitable, I thought that I would never need to write this piece. I will obviously fall in common places which are in fact the secret shelter to those adventurers of irreverence. Yes, I will say that the blogosphere has lost all its grasp. Yes, I will say that I can see through my PC screen the many megabytes of devoted advertisement you made for bloggers who, according to you, were worth being read — and who, after that, definitely left Internet anonymity.
MEGAo Mirante, Nélson

O jardim ameno do seu blog era um grande e agradecido sorriso. Escrevia no Sub Rosa como “forma de resistência“, como “desejo de sobrevivência“. Com tranquilidade e muita esperança. Docemente. Quem ama a vida, assim, desperta decerto na eternidade. A nossa sentida homenagem. Daqui, de Portugal, que a Maria Elisa Guimarães tanta amava, um derradeiro Vale! de despedida.
À minha querida MEGAlmocreve das Petas

The sweet garden of her blog was like a big and thankful open smile. She wrote in SubRosa as a “form of resistance”, as a “surviving desire”. With tranquility and lots of hope. In a sweet way. Those who love life, surely awake in eternity. From here, in Portugal, a dear place to Maria Elisa Guimarães, we send our heart-felt homage, and a last “Vale!” as a farewell.
À minha querida MEGAlmocreve das Petas

Alguém aqui já conhecia a Meg? Do dia 14 de janeiro pra cá, Meg se tornou assunto recorrente em vários blogs. Tomei conhecimento de Meg ao ler um post muito bonito no Ao Mirante, Nelson. Não entendi direito o que queria dizer, mas vi que era uma homenagem. Pouco tempo depois, talvez até no mesmo dia, não lembro, li outro post, agora no blog de Cíntia, mulher de Nelson, externando sua tristeza pela morte de Meg. E, se não me engano, li mais um outro texto lamentando essa morte, só que não sei mais onde foi. Pelo que pude perceber, Meg era uma blogueira das antigas, dona do Sub Rosa, e muito querida dos blogueiros de primeira geração. Em algum desses posts-homenagens tinha o link pro Sub Rosa e cheguei a ler uma coisa ou outra. Ainda pensei: “poxa, depois que a moça morre é que eu fico conhecendo o blog… agora é tarde.”.
MEGÉ a mãe!

Is there someone here who knew Meg? From January 14th until now, Meg has become the issue in many blogs. I've come to know Meg by reading a very beautiful post in Ao Mirante, Nelson. I didn't understand exactly what it meant, but I could see it was an homage. Soon after that, maybe the same day, I read another post, now in Cintia's blog — Nelson's wife — expressing her sadness about Meg's death. I could notice that Meg was one of the first bloggers, owner of SubRosa, and much loved by the first-generation bloggers. In some of these posts there were links to SubRosa, and I read some pieces here and there. And I thought: “wow, I get to know her blog only after the woman dies… now it is too late.”.
MEGÉ a mãe!

Hoje, a blogosfera, sobretudo aí no Brasil, está fazendo uma homenagem à doce Meg. Todos os que a conheceram escrevem um post dedicado. Uma das mais bonitas será a do Paulo José Miranda. O Paulo JM é um poeta português que se apaixonou pelo Brasil e por uma rosa, Meg. Mas ela tocou muita gente, pela via do amor e da amizade. Deste lado do mar, quero que também fique registada a saudade. a nossa saudade, a do fado, de que Meg, mesmo sorrindo muito, era tão apreciadora. Sabia que ela era fã de Aldina Duarte?
Bill, você conheceu a Meg?Ante Et Post

Today, the blogosphere, especially there in Brazil, is making an homage to sweet Meg. All those who knew her are writing devoted posts. One of the most beautiful will be from Paulo José Miranda. Paulo JM is a Portuguese poet who fell in love with Brazil, and also with a rose, Meg. But she has touched many of us, on the path of love and friendship. From this side of the ocean, I want to register my missing, our missing, from the Fado music which Meg appreciated so much, even smiling as she does. Do you know she was a Aldina Duarte's fan?
Bill, você conheceu a Meg?Ante Et Post


The first report
about the presumed fatality appeared in a post ['My Woman Died'] from Paulo José Miranda, a Portuguese blogger who writes as if he were Meg's husband, despite confessing that they met in person only once(!), during a weekend in Sao Paulo. There were details of a diagnosed cancer in Meg and a trip to New York's Mount Sinai Hospital for specialized treatment. Contradictory signals started to arise when some bloggers found out that the IP address used by Meg in her ‘last’ posts and comments was not from a US ISP, but it was instead coming from some place covered by Telemar Norte, a company providing Internet access to the northern region of Brazil. Reactions to the growing evidence that Meg's death was a hoax, and that she was now online with another name [Tereza Quetzal] turned a mourning blogosphere into a crossfire of judgments.

O post intitulado Sub Rosa foi apagado. A Meg não morreu. Tenho passado a tarde de hoje a tentar esclarecer esta história. Vou tomar como verdade a notícia de que não morreu, pois recebi um pedido de desculpas da pessoa que me informou da sua morte. De um e-mail a uma pessoa com quem troquei algumas notas sobre o caso hoje à tarde, destaco a única coisa que me “apraz” dizer: «Uma tristeza, brincarem assim com os sentimentos das pessoas. Uma vergonha. Isto é o cúmulo da mediocridade e da cretinice. Como é possível esta gente ser tão lorpa?» Não tenho mais nada a dizer, senão lembrar-me, mais uma vez, do que há dias aqui escrevi [Nas prisões norte-americanas corre entre os presos uma regra de sobrevivência que se aplica muito bem às relações cibernéticas: Don't Trust Nobody!]
NotaInsónia

The post titled Sub Rosa was deleted. Meg is not dead. I've been trying to clarify this story this whole afternoon. I am taking the information that she is not dead as the truth, as I received apologies from the person who informed me about her death. From an e-mail I've sent to someone with whom I exchanged some notes about the case today comes the only thing I feel like saying now: “How sad to play like that with people's feelings. It's a shame. Mediocrity and idiocy on its highest levels. How can these people be so stupid?” I have nothing more to say, except remembering once more what I wrote some days ago: “Inmates in US prisons have a survival rule which applies well to the cybernetic relationships: Don't Trust Nobody!”
NotaInsónia

O pior não foi forjar a morte. Mas se apresentar de novo com um pseudônimo, afirmando ser uma amiga, e insinuando uma transcrição de palavras de Meg, algo do além. Agora se sabe que a amiga é a própria Meg. Não há informações de familiares. Há pessoas que falam com a certeza de que ela está viva e que a farsa tem proporções maiores, como um pseudo-marido, que publica fotos de uma mulher bem mais nova, a Meg tinha/tem aproximadamente 60 anos, afirmando que é a própria e que ela morreu. O antigo blog foi modificado e está no nome de outra pessoa. Às especulações unem-se coisas ruins e aspectos negativos de sua personalidade, que foram surgindo no bafafá de comentários que se transformou o episódio. É comum nos decepcionarmos com as pessoas, ainda mais no meio virtual, que não podemos ter certeza de nada. As pessoas podem simplesmente montar uma vida virtual, como forma de fuga, diversão, medo de encarar o real e se esconder atrás de um computador. Os blogs estão cheios de pessoas que gostam de chamar atenção. Nessa vida aprendi a tentar nunca julgar e procurar entender. Mas a lição que fica é: a vida virtual não compensa, deveríamos, sim, passar mais tempo com nossos amigos reais, em ambientes reais, seríamos mais felizes.
Sobre blogs e enganosPalavras dispersas

Fabricating her own death was not the worst thing she did, but presenting herself pseudonymously as Meg's friend, and insinuating that she was somehow channeling her own voice from the afterlife. There is no information of family members. There are people affirming that she is alive and that the deception is even bigger, with a pseudo-husband who publishes pictures of a much younger woman [she was around 60] saying that it is Meg, and that she is dead. The former blog was changed and is now registered under someone else's name. Speculations got mixed with negative aspects of her personality that started to emerge as the episode has turned into a brouhaha of comments. It is common for us to get disappointed with people, even more in the virtual media where we can't be sure of anything. People can easily build a virtual life as a kind of escape, or amusement, or because of fear of facing the real world, resulting in using the keyboard to hide themselves from the world. From all this, the lesson for me is: virtual life does not pay back, and we should spend more time along with our real friends, in real environments, and we would be happier.
Sobre blogs e enganosPalavras dispersas

Tem vezes que não durmo bem. Esta noite me grilei muito com a história da MEG. Para quem não conhece a história, aviso que é triste. No começo das bloguices esta mulher, consideravelmente mais velha que os outros blogueiros, era muito envolvida nos blogs, dava conselhos, animava as pessoas, esses babados. Parece que era muito doentinha. Ninguém a conheceu ao vivo, exceto o Marcus Pessoa, que é da região norte. Aí, de repente vem a notícia que ela tá num hospital USA. E daí que ela morreu. Houve choro e ranger de dentes. Até que descobriram que ela não morreu coisa nenhuma, que o mail dela vinha do Norte mesmo, não dos EUA. Parece que além do câncer ela tinha desordem bipolar. E então me sinto revoltada com o comentário das pessoas sentidas pelo logro. É o contrário do filho pródigo. A pessoa que era exemplar virou uma velha sem ter o que fazer e daí morro a baixo.
Que tristeza a raça humanaUniverso Anárquico

There are some nights when I don't sleep well. Tonight I was riled by Meg's story. To those unaware about the case, I forewarn that it is a sad one. When this whole thing about blogging started this woman, who is considerably older than the other bloggers, was very enmeshed with the blogs, offering advice, stimulating the people and those kinds of things. It seems that she was already a sick person. Nobody met her in person, with the exception of Marcus Pessoa, from the North. Then suddenly comes the information that she is in a hospital in the US. And then that she died. There were laments, weepings and creaking teeth. Then they discovered that she hasn't died at all, that her email was coming from the north of Brazil, and not from the US. Looks like, in addition to the cancer, she had bipolar disorder. Then I get mad with the comments from the people feeling hurt by the hoax. It is quite the contrary of the prodigal son. The person who was an example to all turns into a dysfunctional decrepit woman with nothing better to do, and this just a start.
Que tristeza a raça humanaUniverso Anárquico


Apart from the overheated exchange
between the enraged ex-mourners and Meg's temperate supporters and friends, there were interesting remarks among the hundreds of comments that started sprouting on blog posts about the issue. There were good ones going deeper into some psychological aspects of blogging, and others speculating about possible plans to take advantage of the attention gathered by the case.

Em uma preciosa entrevista concedida à jornalista Elis Monteiro em maio de 2002, Meg afirmou: “Escrever um blog é uma tarefa que não se faz sozinho. Vira um trabalho coletivo. Quer no fato de que as pessoas que nos lêem seguem indicações e chegam a outros destinos, vão em frente, como também suas críticas, seus questionamentos, os que apontam erros nossos, contribuem expressivamente para se saber a quantas se anda. (…) Acho que blog é uma experiência conjunta de se viver melhor. Da prática da partilha, a negação da propriedade absoluta. Exercício de esforços do afeto“.
Um poema para MegPensar Enlouquece, Pense Nisso

In a precious interview given to the journalist Elis Monteiro in May 2002, Meg affirmed: “Writing a blog is a task that we can't do alone. It turns into a collective work. Either from the fact that people who read us follow indications and arrive in other destinations and keep going further, either from their criticizing, questioning or pointing out our mistakes and expressively collaborating toward a better understanding of our personal stand. …. I think the blog is a collective experience of finding a better way to live. From the practice of sharing to the negation of absolute property. Those are the exercises of efforts for affection.“.
Um poema para MegPensar Enlouquece, Pense Nisso

Se Meg é um personagem – tudo lhe é permitido – morrer, renascer, reinventar, estrapolar, transcender. O que significa o lógico? É importante a pessoa ser lógica? O que é importante, ser dramática ou lógica? O que é a desassociação de idéias? No que ela difere, numa pessoa artística e numa pessoa mentalmente doente? Alguém que se recupera de um ataque cardíaco por acaso se recupera carregando pedras? Não deveria essa pessoa esperar até estar bem para discutir tais questões , já que estando doente inevitavelmente levará a pior ao tentar infringir os direitos dos outros? Sorry, eu não sou Meg!
Comentário de Zelda Scott in InternETC

If Meg is a character, everything is permitted to her — to die, to be reborn, to reinvent, to extrapolate, to transcend. What is the meaning of being logical? Is it that important for a person to be logical? What is more important, to be dramatic or to be logical? What is the meaning of idea dissociation? How does it differ in an artist and in a mentally ill person? Does someone recovering from a heart attack start with carrying rocks? Wouldn't it be natural to wait until this person gets well to debate those issues, as long as being ill will inevitably put her in a bad position while meddling with other's rights? Sorry, I am not Meg!
Comentário de Zelda Scott in InternETC

Quem sabe, dia qualquer, a Meg “reencarne”, não é mesmo? Muito já escrevi sobre blogueiros que se utilizam da internet para suprir suas carências de ordem sentimental. Não que seja errado, ou condenável, mas é algo tristíssimo por ser ineficiente. Acaba dando em NADA! A pessoa fica dependente de comentários elogiosos, sofre quando estes diminuem, faz piruetas e distribui ‘docinhos', tudo para receber sua dose de carinho virtual. O carinho virtual assume a mesma importância do oxigênio, da água, da luz do sol. Não condeno esses viciados em carinho virtual, já disse. Somos todos neuróticos em algum grau, ainda que mínimo… Bom… o alerta que fica – se é que alertas têm alguma serventia prática, é: nosso blog não é nosso mundo, nem é nossa alma, muito menos o nosso coração. Nosso blog é apenas um espaço onde publicamos fragmentos do que somos. Se o levarmos muito a sério, ele – o blog – nos “matará”, ainda que virtualmente. Abração, Ina, e trate de não morrer jamais, ok?
Comentário de Dennis in Pensar Enlouquece, Pense Nisso

Who knows if someday Meg will reincarnate? I've written a lot about bloggers who use the Internet to fill their emotional needs. Not to say that there is something wrong or condemnable in it, but it is surely a sad situation because of its inefficiency. It manifests in nothing! The person becomes dependent on soft soap comments, suffers when those are absent, starts making acrobatics and giving away candies in order to receive their dose of virtual affection, which becomes as important as oxygen, water or sunlight. I do not blame those addicted to virtual affection, as I said. We are all neurotic to some extent… The warning I make – as long as warnings have any practical usefulness — is: our blog is not our world, and is not our soul, and even less our heart. Our blog is just a space where we publish fragments of what we are. If we take it too seriously, it — the blog — will “kill” us, even though virtually. A big hug to you, Ina, and be sure to never be killed, ok?
Comentário de Dennis in Pensar Enlouquece, Pense Nisso

Tenho informações que considero muito fieis aos fatos. A Meg esta fazendo uma pesquisa sobre o comportamento humano na Blogosfera. Fez isso e vai lançar um livro, que segundo minha informante, será muito bom, esclarecedor. Realmente deve dar uma ótima radiografia do comportamento humano. Quando souberam que ela morreu, todos a elogiaram, era a melhor pessoa do mundo e agora tudo se inverte. Ja encomendei meu livro.
Comentário de Anonimo in InternETC

I have some information that I consider very accurate in relation to the facts. Meg is doing a study about human behavior in the Blogosphere. She is doing that and will soon launch a book which, according to my source, will be very good and enlightening. It can really provide an excellent x-ray about human behavior. When they heard that she died, everybody was praising her, she was the best person in the world, and now everything is quite the inverse. I've already ordered mine.
Comentário de Anonimo in InternETC

É a internet no seu melhor. Empatias, amizades, amores e desamores, blogs, e-mails, IRC, ICQ, MSN e o diabo a quatro… Tudo por um pouco menos de solidão. E estamos, afinal, ainda mais sós. R.
Comentário anônimo in NotaInsónia

This is the Internet at its best. Empathies, friendship, love and hate affairs, blogs, e-mails, IRC, ICQ, MSN and all the devil's tools… Everything for a little less of aloneness and isolation. And in the end, we are still more alone. R.
Comentário anônimo in NotaInsónia


As a last word
I will quote Cora Rónai, journalist, one of the first Brazilian bloggers and still today one of the most read ones in Brazil — and Meg's friend.

O Anônimo escreveu: “Se não fosse pelas maldades, ela mereceria compaixão…” Perdão, mas… que maldades? Nos quase 150 comentários do post lá embaixo, várias pessoas deram depoimentos em que reconheceram, em primeira pessoa, o carinho e a gentileza que receberam da Meg. Não houve um só relato de alguém que se dissesse diretamente vítima de qualquer maldade. Falaram na Magaly e num blog deletado em 1915, sem levar em consideração o que eventualmente estaria escrito naquele blog, e porque cargas d'água a Meg teria a sua senha. Repito o que escrevi: acho que ela quis dar um perdido no tal português — que deve ser, este sim, um tremendo mau caráter (fiquei horrorizada ao ver como ele quis surfar na popularidade da sua “falecida mulher”) — não calculou o exato alcance dos seus atos e, a essas alturas, se a conheço, deve estar arrasada e profundamente arrependida do que fez. A meu ver a Meg é, sim, digna de compaixão. Muita compaixão. Por vários motivos, mas agora, sobretudo, por ter posto a perder tantos amigos conquistados ao longo dos anos: afinal, também não se pode pedir a ninguém que chore o mesmo defunto duas vezes. Dito isso, vamos cuidar da vida.
Caso MeginternETC.

Anonymous wrote: “If not for her bad doings, she would deserve compassion….” Excuse me, but… what bad doings? In the more than 150 comments in the post below, many people offered reports where they recognized, personally, the affection and the gentleness they received from Meg. There was not even one report of somebody being a direct victim of any bad doing… I repeat what I've wrote: I think she tried to dismiss the Portuguese, who must be a tremendously bad character. I was horrified by his attempt to surf on his ‘deceased wife’ popularity. She miscalculated the exact reach of her acts and, by this time, if I know her well, must be devastated and profoundly ashamed of what she has done. In my view, Meg deserves compassion. Lots of compassion. There are many reasons for that, but now especially because she lost so many friends that were won over across the years: after all, we can't ask anybody to mourn the same death twice. Having said that, let's take care of our own life.
Caso MeginternETC.
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  • http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/author/joria/ Jordan & Maria Seidel

    this is such an fascinating post! i was reminded of the ‘lonely girl’ hoax on youtube while reading this…perhaps meg got too caught up in her popularity and found it hard to simply unplug, or as someone said above, she was addicted to the virtual affection…i am reminded of very famous pop stars like ‘jacko’ for example, who are as much of a creation of their fans as they are self-created…

    on the other hand, we have the issues of lying and deception i think…if we must assume that all bloggers are not whom they seem, this would surely undermine the trust that a community needs to thrive,

    …so i think meg’s behavior could not be universalized as a rule for everyone, hence it’s immoral…she had unfair power over others, she duped people (even if she made them feel good), and she may have even damaged her own sense of personal integrity…

    perhaps her ‘fans’ were virtual accomplices in this mystery and so share the blame for the ill-will now, but in the end, meg’s behavior is not something i would like to see blossom all over the blogopshere…i don’t want to be part of any single person’s social experiment…

    do you think meg’s behavior was moral? and why?

  • http://ecodigital.blogspot.com/ Jose Murilo Junior

    hey…
    thanks for the comment! i don’t think the moral perspective is an interesting one. the one thing i like about this story is the way it touches blogger’s psychology and their relationship with the personas built through their blog writing.
    by the way, i’d like to stress that the comment mentioning that the hoax could be ‘a study about human behavior in the Blogosphere’ is an anonymous one. could we trust it?
    have a nice weekend!

  • http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/author/joria/ Jordan & Maria Seidel

    hey no problem,

    …however i think it is precisely the moral dimension that is what people are reacting to, this IS the psychological realm, it could be the conscience of peole being deceieved that is at work here…maybe it’s not interesting but i do think morality is the big issues here…and it does connect to relationships because it’s about trust and honesty…the basis of genuine communication…

    what do you think, should everyone behave this way (like meg) in the blogopshere?

  • http://attu.typepad.com/universo_anarquico tina oiticica harris

    I followed very closely this story. I didn’t know MEG. The story affected me deeply. I don’t know how people can demand rational behavior from a bipolar person. When the person is having a breakdown, there is no rhyme or reason, cliché, but true.

    I am thankful to Cora Rónai and to Alexandre Inagaki for being rational at a time people behaved like those in Chico Buarque’s song, “Geni.” Geni saves a town and is stoned in return. Bloggers behave no differently than other humans. Most of our peers don’t understand tolerance. And I am one of them, except in this MEG story.

    Good article, José Murilo Jr. When are you showing up again?

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  • Vuositta

    Helsingin purkuosat.
    Pariskunta johtajan talon johonkin taidetoimikunta kokemuksellisen avoinna suljetaan olemassa?

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