New Delhi: If you did not know that death stared you in the face, what would be the last message you would send out to the world? Would it be mundane and impersonal? Last tweets of celebrities have assumed the same status as the last words before death. They tell a poignant story and offer a glimpse into the minds of the people who posted them just before their death.
After the grisly shooting inside a theatre at Aurora, Colorado, a community of supporters and mourners has sprung up around the tweets of two of the 12 victims whose lives, and subsequently hopes, dreams and ambitions were cut short at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
The effervescent last tweet of Alex Sullivan, whose 27th birthday was coming up, has become a rallying point for thousands of Americans - to express both hope and anguish. Sullivan, a Batman fan, couldn't believe his good luck as he queued up for the last Batman film of the mega successful franchise. He was to also mark his first anniversary with his wife, Cassie.
Sullivan, who tweeted from the handle @sully_2003, wrote: "#TheDarkKnightRises @Reel_Nerds oh man one hour till the movie and its going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever." He wouldn't know that his last tweet has triggered an avalanche of condolence messages from strangers the world over.
Jessica Ghawi, a 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster who worked and tweeted under the name Jessica Redfield said in her last post on Twitter "MOVIE DOESN'T START FOR 20 MINUTES." The all capital letters were intended to make a point to her friend Jesse Spector who was ribbing her for tweeting instead of watching the film in response to her earlier comment 'loser' directed at him for not catching the most awaited film of the year on the first night. Those were the last 20 minutes of her life that would come to haunt her family and friends in the days to come.
In the rapidly evolving world of social media, often the recipient of the last tweet becomes as important as the sender. Actor Shammi Kapoor's November 28, 2010 tweet, his last, was meant for actress Priyanka Chopra. He tweeted under the handle @shamsheraj.
"@priyankachopra look for a joint called RESSEE. Super dance of the fountains. 1961. Love." He was responding and in his own way comforting the actress after she expressed sadness at having only three days of shooting left in Berlin. Kapoor passed away on August 14, 2011.
Actor Dev Anand's last message was for Filmfare editor Jitesh Pillai. "Hello Jitesh hope you are fine and congratulations for the latest Filmfare edition having great nostalgia my blessings to you," he said on November 30, 2011. He died on December 3. Pillai is himself a recognized name in the industry. But imagine the thrill of Twitter user Rupa Chopade, whose parents are fans of the actor, when she got a reply to a question she asked him. She was the last fan on Twitter to have received a response from the actor.
"Who do u think is the best actor/ actress in this decade?" Rupa asked.
"All are good otherwise they wouldn't have been actors," Anand responded.
Mona Kapoor, the first wife of producer Boney Kapoor was battling stage three, multiple organ cancer. She must have been annoyed by a flood of questions from strangers asking her how she was doing which led to her irate last tweet: "Once more any1 asks hw I am I wl block them. U all knw I am in hosp n battlng stagr 3 multiple organs cancer. Kindly pray fr me. Thts all." The finality of the last two words put an end to days of speculation. She passed away nine days later, on March 25 this year.
Often that last moment would come up so suddenly that people would be caught tweeting something innocuous or sharing pictures or replying to someone else. Their spectacularly regular slice of life would be magnified through the prism of social media into something significant and poignant.
Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger and publisher who died in March after collapsing while walking near his home, used his last tweet to apologize to a follower for calling him a "putz," according to the Associated Press.
Dr Frank Ryan, a plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills, fell off a cliff in 2010 just minutes after tweeting a picture of his dog looking out toward the ocean from a sand dune. "http://twitpic.com/2fflev - Border collie jill surveying the view from atop the sand dune," was his last message.
New York rap legend Heavy D's last tweet became a beacon of encouragement and hope for millions. It simply said "BE INSPIRED."
Retweeted close to 3000 times is @DJ_AM's poetic description of New York in his final message on Twitter. "New york, new york. Big city of dreams, but everything in New York aint always what it seems."
American professional boxer Vernon Forrest tweeted to Serena Williams "Whats up Stranger long time no see" days before he died.
Teenager Ashley Duncan's disturbing last tweet said 'finally got a gun' accompanied by a picture of the weapon that she dubbed as "my bitch" before she reportedly shot herself with it.
(With inputs from AP)