The growth of the Web has made possible an interesting new phenomenon in the history of human society: universal self-revelation. Personal web pages and "community" sites have made it easy to get a very good sense of what somebody is like, though you may never meet him in the flesh. "If you want to know a man, read his book," says the philosopher; but the man's Web site tells you even more.
(Warning: Some of the links that follow lead to sites containing images of partial nudity.)
Jose Vicens, the 23-year-old driver whose SUV pulverized Andre Anderson's internal organs and brain last September, enjoys recording his life in a "community" site called myspace.com. (A saved snapshot of the page is here, in case the live page is changed or deleted before you read this.)
One important part of Jose's life is drinking: his member name on myspace.com is "spikedcuervo". Here are some images of "spikedcuervo", posted by himself, featuring some of his favorite beverages:
Beer is not Jose's only interest. On a soft-core quasi-porn site called leghumper.com, he has a membership. His member page there lists his interests as "girls, beer, and cars." If only he had stuck to the first two.
His words tell you as much as the pictures do, in spite of the well-known proverb. Some of his words on myspace.com are here; some more, here. (Big Shady is spikedcuervo's "display name".)
Looking again at these images, I feel a certain sympathy for the kid. He is not a person I would like to know, but he's no better or worse than millions of others. The problem is that we -- our society -- have handed this poor reeling galoot a deadly weapon, in the form of a motor vehicle, and with countless cultural images and social cues, enouraged him to wield that weapon in ways that led him to a fatal encounter, on a quiet September Saturday last year. Now another kid is dead -- and what, I wonder, has Jose learned? What will it take to teach him -- and all the millions of others?
--Michael J. Smith