Minutes after Robin Gibb’s death, it began — the tweets of misery, the hashtagged mourning, the maudlin aphorisms streaming up and down Facebook walls and across Pinterest boards. The musician’s life was collated and curated by fans and passersby who felt compelled to make sense of it all in 140 characters or less.
“R.I.P. Robin Gibb,” the first wave wrote, acting as virtual Paul Reveres for followers and friends. Next came the people who listened to him in high school, one-upped by the people who lost their virginity to the Bee Gees record they purchased with their first paycheck in high school.
What was presented as genuine emotional loss sometimes looked like competitive grieving — sadness mixed with the performance art of social media. Or as Jacob Silverman witheringly sighed on Jewcy.com, “On Twitter, grief is just another meme.”
If your Facebook feed was free of Gibb adulation, then it might have been nostalgia-bombed by Donna Summer retrospectives, Adam “MCA” Yauch tributes, Levon Helm memories, Maurice Sendak mash notes, and Chuck Brown YouTube videos, photographs and moldering interviews. Everyone was sad, so sad. Everyone was everyone’s favorite artist.