Last night, our youngest daughter came downstairs crying. That’s unusual for her; Sofia isn’t a crier. The girls like to watch videogamers, especially Minecraft streamers, and one of them had just died.
His name was Alex, but he went by Technoblade. He was a hugely popular Minecraft streamer. How popular? He had more than 10,000,000 followers. That’s right: ten million. Everytime he went live, people would scramble to watch him play. He didn’t just play a game, though. He interacted with his fans, encouraging good sportsmanship and often giving away merchandise with his logo on it. His fans loved him.
Last night he succumbed to a year-long battle against stage-four cancer. It was something he tried to keep on the downlow. Apparently he didn’t want his illness to interfere with his passion for the game. His family is heartbroken, which you can tell in this video (so long nerds – YouTube) his father made shortly after Alex’s passing. I’m sure the people lucky enough to know him as a personal friend are heartbroken. And like millions of his fans, my girls are heartbroken. He was 23 years old.
He isn’t the only famous young person whose death recently impacted my family. Caleb “Biggie” Swannigan died last week of heart failure. Caleb had a sad young life, growing up in poverty and sometimes homeless. In eighth grade, he reportedly weighed more than 350 pounds. He found someone who cared about him, though, who inspired him to lose weight and take basketball seriously. He became a star high school basketball player, went on to get a scholarship to Purdue University to play basketball, and eventually was drafted into the NBA. During covid he left the sport, and his life took a 180. As one IndyStar writer put it, his life ended much the same way as it began. He was 25 years old.
Both of these young men were loved by their fanbases. Not because they were good at what they did, which they were, but because of how they treated people. Alex took the time to interact with his fans online, showing that he wasn’t just a voice playing a game. He was kind. Caleb took the time to sign autographs, give high-fives, and pose for pictures. My brother has a picture with him at a Purdue football game. He was that kind of guy. He was kind.
Most of us will never interact with 10,000,000 people in our lives. The poetry books I have written will not sell millions of copies. My dissertation, when finished, will not be cited by millions of readers. I consider this blog successful if ten people read it. I will not touch millions of lives, and neither will you. But we can each touch the lives of a few, and it starts with being kind.
At the library where I work, there is almost always someone checking in books near the front door. Most of us try to wish our patrons a good day as they leave the building. It isn’t much, but sometimes I wonder if it will be the only positive interaction that someone has in a day. It’s a small act of kindness from one person to another. Sometimes that is all we can do. Sometimes that is all it takes.
So go, be kind to someone else. Smile at a stranger. Wish a good day to the person who bagged your groceries at the supermarket. Do something kind for one person, and know that even if it doesn’t impact millions, it still made a difference.
RIP Technoblade and Biggie. Thanks for being kind.