Suicide is saddening. News of death is scary. And it is a serious matter, especially if you've touched the hearts of many. When Marc aka holdkriss99 "committed suicide" last week, the Metafilter community was deep in sorrow. They expressed their heartfelt condolences to his "wife" mrs holdkriss99 and offered her plenty of shoulders to cry on.
But then it turned out to be a hoax.
holdkriss99 was a member of the Metafilter forum for six years. In those years he wrote long posts, developed relationships, and was regarded highly by the Metafilter community. So how did Marc kill off his internet personality?
Marc's "wife" contacted the Metafilter mods on May 16th, telling them that her husband had committed suicide the previous weekend. The mods set her up with an account to post about her sob story - a 4,000 word tome which had stories of sexual abuse, meth addiction, prison, their wedding, murder, depression, death, and what he loved. The letter was intense and it made people cry. Everyone believed it.
Soon after, the mods began questioning Marc's death, saying:
We give folks the benefit of the doubt and assume all else being equal that things are on the level, because they almost always are, but we also double-check things, and look into stuff when users bring worries to us. And there were some quietly worrying things in this case—no easily-findable obituary notices, no aggregations of condolences on social media pages—but none of that's a smoking gun. When we found a direct reference from one of Marc's friends to having hung out with him at an event several days after his alleged suicide, that meant we had to ask.
Metafilter users poured out their sympathies and shared memories of Marc, posting comments like:
Oh, this is horrible. For some reason I had clicked on his username a few days ago and marveled at the amazing contributions he brought to this community.
My favorite holdkris99 story is this one, which is about your wedding.
He seemed like such an amazing person; if there is anything the Metafilter community can do to assist you during this time, please do not hesitate to ask. This is a terrible loss and I wish you peace. posted by lalex at 9:42 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]
I am so sorry for your loss. Your husband was a vibrant and loved member of this site. His contributions helped make this community thrive and his answers in AskMe helped many different people with a huge variety of problems, ranging from how to cook something to the thorniest of human relationship issues.
We were lucky to have his presence here, and I would like to thank you for sharing this news, and the story of your own lives and love with us; I feel honoured and grateful you have chosen to do so. posted by smoke at 9:50 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]
I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking time to write that beautiful post. My wife is going to wonder why I'm crying and she feels the same way about MetaFilter that you do.
Please know that there are literally thousands of people here who have you in their hearts. posted by The World Famous at 10:26 PM on May 16 [56 favorites]
So what gives? What was the point of Marc's sick and twisted joke? To teach internet communities not to care? To not trust anything or anyone online? It's still unclear why Marc staged his death. Was it sympathy he sought? We'll never know.