A thirty-two-year-old woman is killed while updating her Facebook status behind the wheel of a moving car, and the Internet is flooding with opinions.
Reactions span everywhere from “She deserves a Darwin award” to “How would YOU like your entire life to be judged based on one mistake?”
Talk about extremes. One could rationally argue that Facebooking while driving is more a deliberate choice than a “mistake,” but I can understand the sentiment behind it: no one wants to be remembered solely for the wrongs they committed. Our lives should be more than cautionary tales.
But I have to wonder if the same amount of compassion would be shown if the truck driver she hit was critically injured or killed. Or if she plowed into a family’s minivan and killed all the children inside.
Then she’d be a monster. Right?
This idea of how we define “good” and “bad,” especially when the person in question is deceased and cannot redeem or justify their actions, appeals to me because it’s the primary topic in my upcoming book. Where There’s Smoke is full of flawed characters who want to believe they are good. And they do try; but the ways they go about proving themselves make others scratch their heads at best, and feel betrayed at worst. It’s a story that asks: who are we really? Are we the sum of all our actions? Is the note we finish our lives on the most defining of them all?
There are no right or wrong ways to answer this question, and that’s what I love about it.