Today I decided to learn more about Aaron Swartz, the 26 year old young man who killed himself yesterday. I’d read of some of his biggest accomplishments in the compact obits online – he was involved in founding Reddit, RSS, other tech feats, but was also and perhaps more well known for his dogged pursuit of social justice and open access to information.
And then I visited his blog. My god. With entries beginning at least five years ago, this young man was more curious, more prolific and more brilliantly aware than many of us can even hope to be in midlife. His topics ranged from brutally honest accounts of his own social awkwardness to plain language descriptions of Keynesian economics and why there is so much unemployment in the US (as a result of monetary policy). He is constantly pushing himself to do more although it truly boggles the mind to see what he did achieve and the number of projects he would be involved with simultaneously, with – and this is a 50-something making this call – not much ego involved; not an insignifant point for a man in his early 20s. But it’s his posts about the personal, the internal – about how to deal with the pain of depression, how not to give in to stasis by taking even the smallest of steps toward something more, you can hear him speaking to himself as he coaches his readers not to give up. I can’t begin to convey how articulate and quite brilliant he is, but more profoundly, how deeply insightful he was and how much his blog posts affected me.
I don’t know why he killed himself. If you take the time to read some of his posts, you’ll find a few that flag the event. I just wish … that I had heard of him and his blog before his suicide brought his name to my news sites. And more than that, I wish he had not chosen to leave us. He gave us so much already. Maybe it was enough. ?