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Depression, Bullying, and Suicide | eciov
These are heavy topics for me… heavy for most of the people who end up reading this. I’m constantly watching current events so I can write something that challenges all of us. This one hurts: not because these apply to me directly, because they apply to all of us indirectly. None of you can say that you’ve never encountered depression, bullying or suicide at any point in your life. I’d wager that most of you have experience with at least two of those, maybe even at the same time. Unfortunately, this post talks about all three because of a single victim, pushed too far. Aaron Swartz was a 26-year-old internet genius that did more for your online freedoms that you will ever know. He obtained a high level of fame at 14 when he helped define the RSS (really simple syndicate) specification still used by millions of websites worldwide. Since that time, he helped build the massive dumping ground of opinions called Reddit, worked on the development of the Creative Commons copyright licenses, and founded DemandProgress.org. I will never do his work justice, so here’s an excerpt from his family’s official statement: Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge. He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more. It’s hard for me to comprehend the situation: someone younger than me, more accomplished than me has gone before me because of an ongoing battle with depression and a bullying government that overstepped ethical boundaries. His never-ending lust for free information got him into trouble with the federal government more than once. He was most recently under investigation for stealing journal articles from MIT, whose desire to continue litigation became less clear over time. To our government, that didn’t matter. Aaron had come under fire previously by working to make US law history free to everyone. A program called PACER allows people to pay for access, but Aaron helped create a program called RECAP that hosted much of the purchased information for free. He and many other activists used countless amounts of time and money to free a large percentage of that data from the government’s pay wall. Even though big brother never brought him down, they smeared his name and constantly harassed him… they just wouldn’t let up. Most of the speculation surrounding his suicide points to a government that bullies those who fight for free information. Even though MIT backed away — they didn’t clarify their position well — the prosecution kept prodding, …