Dan Martin and Seb Patrick

Like a lot of people I’m finding it hard to process grief for this strange new category of people that have been introduced into our lives – people like Dan Martin and Seb Patrick, both of whom have suddenly passed away in the last few days. People who I maybe only met once or twice in person, but who I *interacted* with all the time.

There won’t have been a Liverpool game this season I watched without seeing Seb tweet about it – I saw him tweeting about the cup final just on Saturday, its like he’s there watching the game with you as part of your gang.

Me and Dan would email about Doctor Who episodes – sometimes we’d both get to see them in advance of transmissions and he’d be the only person I could discuss them with without worrying about spoilers. I know for sure that the last time we were in the same room together was at a Doctor Who premiere, but we were both so busy that I don’t even recall saying hi that night.

And then they’ve gone, and it seems weird and limiting to call them only a “digital colleague” or an “online friend”, because online is so much of what we do and where we live and where we spend our time and where we find people who make us laugh. Just because I haven’t spent hours in the same physical place as them doesn’t mean you haven’t done all the steps of friendship – learning each others quirks and interests and sense of humour and sharing in both their triumphs and sadnesses.

Having had Seb’s death confirmed, I was doing another online thing last night with a much heavier heart than I had anticipated, one of the #TimsTwitterListeningParty events for an OMD album. Its got the track Isotype on it, and its message of everything you ever write and publish being boiled down to little computerised miniature copies of what you were trying to say.

Everything you’ve ever seen
Photographs and magazines
Vivid color, black and white
All reduced to isotypes

And I just howled about it all because they were both such fun talented writers and so young and with so much more they could have done and because I don’t even have the language to try and articulate what their loss means to me, or how you convey the gap they have left behind to someone who isn’t extremely online all the time, and the unjustness of losing them so early.