90 Day Jane: Social experiment, religious outreach, or real thing?

Update: Turns out it was a “personal art piece”, whatever that means:

90DayJane was meant to mirror the tragic figure, Christine Chubbuck. Newscaster Christine Chubbuck committed suicide in 1974 by shooting herself in the head live on air. She was very vocal about her depression to those around her and gave every indication of her exact intentions leading up to the event. Sadly, no one reacted or helped Christine and those left behind could only ask “why”.

Her story both inspired and terrified me because I can truly empathize with her rage and even her isolation. I wondered how Christine’s life and subsequent suicide would play out in our time. Would the internet be yet another place of isolation to her or an escape? If she remained vocal about her intentions would anyone bother asking “why” or even noticing before the fact? Would the reaction (if any) of the public change her intentions?

I thought this mirror might reflect the isolation everyday people feel and the lack of true human connection on the internet.

It is my feeling that the internet is the best and worst example of human interaction. This was painfully proven to me by reading every comment and every email. I believe I owed that to everyone. I know we all saw the dark side of the reactions in the blog comments. There was so much hate, immaturity and apathy. But, I truly wish everyone could see the beauty and honesty in the emails; many people feel like Jane (me). People have been more real and heartfelt than I thought was possible. I owe them a debt of gratitude for showing me the difference between people’s reactions and their true feelings. I understand.

I have to admit that “art pieces” like this always leave me with the realization of why I’m not an artist. I just don’t understand how this is art. Social experiment? Sure, I can see that. But art? OK, whatever.

I am amused at her not realizing how likely something like this was to explode in terms of the attention it would garner. Welcome to the Internet, “Jane.”

Original entry follows:

The atheist blogs are humming with commentary over a blog called 90 Day Jane. Here’s why:

I am going to kill myself in 90 days. What else should i say? This blog is not a cry for help or even to get attention. It’s simply a public record of my last 90 days in existence. I’m not depressed and nothing extremely horrible has lead me to this decision. But, does it really have to? I mean, as an atheist I feel life has no greater purpose. My generation has had no great depression, no great war and our biggest obstacle is beating Halo 3. So, if I feel like saying “game over”, why can’t I?

Well it’s certainly a novel idea for a blog I suppose, but it seems a bit of a pointless exercise for someone who claims they’re not looking for attention and has already made up their mind. Speculation has run the gamut from it being a social experiment of some sort to an effort by some religious group to attract converts. Shnakepup of the blog “Salt on Everything” seems to feel it’s the latter option:

Expect “Jane” to start laying the nihilism and hedonism on thick, all the while spouting off about how pointless it all is. Then, closer to the due date, we’ll see more and more posts featuring Jane reconsidering her godless, wasteful existence , and pondering if maybe there’s something more. Cue religious friend who sets her straight on the lie of atheism, and who tells her all the church has to offer in it’s place. Instead of killing herself on Day 90, we’ll see her changing her mind and deciding to live her life with Jesus! Warm fuzzy music plays and everybody learns a valuable lesson.

And there’s some decent reasons put forward for thinking this is the case, but I have to admit that I haven’t a clue if it’s real or fake myself though I would tend to be skeptical. Still in this day and age with Emo kids offing themselves just so their friends will set up memorial websites about them it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this turned out to be authentic.

I’m not interested so much in whether it’s a hoax as much as I am in the reaction it’s garnering from the people that visit the site. Comments on the various entries has ranged from the expected “life is too worth living” pleas to abandon the plan to some seriously thoughtful comments on what “Jane” should spend her last 90 days doing along with how to do the deed itself. Combined, of course, with a whole bunch of Internet assholes leaving nasty comments just because the anonymity allows them to be complete douche bags without fear of retribution. I never cease to be amazed at the assholes who always seem to be able to sink lower than the one that posted just before them.

As to ‘90 Day Jane’ herself, well, I don’t know her well enough to have an emotional investment in whether she lives or dies and while I can put forth arguments as to why I’m not interested in suicide at this point in my life those arguments apply mainly to me and aren’t necessarily good ones for anyone else. I think it’d be a waste if she were to go through with it, but I’m not going to sit here and tell her she shouldn’t if that’s what she really wants. We each have to find our own purpose in life even if it is sometimes as simple as seeing what the next day will bring, or even just finishing Halo 3. If it turns out to be a church out-reach kind of thing, well, you know what kind of church it is for engaging in deceptive recruiting efforts. If it’s a social experiment then it’ll be interesting to see what conclusions are drawn from it.