The Burning Man

A few days ago I was on Facebook, and somebody messaged me a video. Students are always sending me videos, so I just clicked the link expecting someone playing a tune, asking a question or something harmless.

Instead, it was a video shot on the street of a foreign country. A man is standing barefoot on a tin rooftop was shouting in a language I do not understand. People on the street are yelling back.

I grew up doing electrical work with my grandfather, so I Immediately noticed that the power lines were low in the offhand way I notice stuff.

I was not prepared for the man to hitch up his sleeves and commit suicide by grabbing the power lines with his bare hands.

The current hit his body like a freight train. His hands blazed with blue and white light. Then they boiled with greasy smoke. As the current ran through his body his head twisted into an unnatural angle until smoke and fire were erupting from the side of his neck in a horrific spout of smoke. Soon his entire body was covered with sparks, smoke, and flames. The energy destroying him blazing in a hideous strobe pattern across my computer screen.

As an epileptic, I don’t do well around flashing lights. I instinctively reached to click away from this gruesome and unwelcome horror – but I stopped myself. Now that I was a witness to this, wherever or whenever it took place, I owed it to this unfortunate soul to stay with him until the end rather than switch to another tab and treat this stranger’s death like a popup ad.

I am a pretty good writer, but I lack the vocabulary to describe the final moments of the clip except that it is horrible.

What about this man? Who was he? What about his family? What drove him to this? Did anyone care? Did anybody filming his death ever stop being an insensitive jerk long enough to tackle him before he grabbed the wire? I have questions on top of questions, and my heart is broken.

Somebody sent me this. Somebody thought it would be cool or funny for me to be ambushed by the sight of a human being reduced to a bundle of smoking debris.

I won’t be joining you on social media for a while. Perhaps a very long while.