Micro-blogger's accounts of the dead inspire the living

Updated: 2013-01-22 13:23

By Sun Ye (China Daily)

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Lin Dongping's micro blog posts remind us to live every day as if it were our last.

Lin's series of short obituaries about ordinary people, which he runs under a title from the Confucian lament "how time flies", have been widely followed on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter. He currently has nearly 800,000 followers.

Lin started the page in July 2011 when the sudden death of a former Ifeng.com editor reminded him that those who would never speak again need attention, too.

"I started the account to record ordinary lives," Lin says.

"The idea came like a flash. No ads. No marketing. No help. No greater ambition."

Lin has since written 800 obits. Each is roughly 100 Chinese characters.

The 25-year-old game developer from Fuzhou, Fujian province, gleaned the information from the micro-blog updates of the deceased. In addition to creating eulogies, Lin calls on micro-bloggers to light virtual candles in condolences and give one last poke on the person's page.

He has since earned himself the nickname, "the online mortician".

"There are billions of living people. Losing one is no big deal," Lin says.

"But everyone has his or her own world. And that's a big deal."

He realized this endeavor has changed him.

"I didn't know that people could be so brave and warm in the face of death," he explains.

He was particularly moved by the wishes of a cancer-afflicted female university student who asked everyone to "warm one another's world".

"I cried when I read it," Lin recalls.

Lin spends 30 minutes a day checking follower-provided sources, writing the obituaries and leaving a final message on the page of the departed.

"As their Weibo is my only source, I don't know much about them," Lin says.

"But I write positive things so people will remember them fondly."

He even wrote an obituary for himself on Dec 21, 2011, the popularly predicted doomsday. It reads: "He lives to be 100 and took his natural course. He's surrounded by family and loved by all. There's no pain or torment."

The entry received more than 200 electric candles.

Lin's account has inspired readers to seize the day.

Among the most common comments are: "What would my last words be? What would the next minute of my life bring? I must do what means the most to me."

Li Yun, ateacher from the High School Attached to South China Normal University, is enticed by the feed because of the "important truth" it conveys.

"Most people think of themselves as ordinary, but they should know that every life is significant," says Li, who has made Lin's page part of her class.

Online intellectual forum Zhihu.com, which voted Lin's page as a must-read in 2013 because it reminds the living how to live, posts: "Let them rest in peace. Let the rest of us live our lives to the fullest."

Lin's friends call him a thinker. Realizing his ideas is his way of living to the fullest, he says.

"Passion drives you and a realistic look at what you are doing motivates you to carry on," Lin says.

"I'm like a bell-chiming monk. Tolling is monotonous, but what I do brings meaning to others."


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