These are my friends on Facebook (identities protected, for obvious reasons), and here is what they said about Joe Paterno’s death. Some joked, some grieved, some lamented the grieving.
I’ll reserve my commentary about Paterno, mostly because I have none. Death is a complicated matter, the discussion of which I am ill-equipped to handle. I have been to one funeral in my life, and that was a few months ago, so I have had little time to actually reflect on the meaning of life and what one’s legacy means once death occurs.
Legacy. The word eternally linked to “death.” The consensus among pundits seems to be that Paterno’s legacy should not be defined by his final 12 weeks, when scandal and moral outrage forced him out of Happy Valley. Of course, some shit-stirrers will inevitably emerge to grab national attention by pointing to Paterno’s recent black marks as an indication that his shortcomings should not be ignored.
But legacy isn’t defined by columnists and bloggers. It’s defined by the masses, how the general public will view him for years to come. Generations that knew of Paterno’s success at Penn State will eventually die out, replaced by adults who grew up playing sports with the burdening awareness of child molestation, because of Jerry Sandusky.
And what better way to gauge that reaction than with Facebook? (Well, probably many. But this is all I’ve got.)