Farewell, SpySentinel

Death is never easy.  We’ve all had to deal with the loss of a loved one, a mentor, a co-worker, etc.  Today, the Geeks to Go family has to deal with the loss of a colleague, known online as SpySentinel.  SpySentinel was a malware helper here, and in the past year became a mod.  He was a respected member of our staff, and his death leaves a big hole in our hearts. In real life, he was a college student.  He started his college career in the computing field, but realized it wasn’t where his heart was.  He changed his major to elementary education, and was looking forward to becoming a teacher and mentor to young children.  He would have succeeded, had he had the opportunity.

His death was not the first one I’ve experienced in the online community, unfortunately.  It does, however, show how the Internet and online communities change the grieving paradigm.  I never met SpySentinel in person, but I spent quite a bit of time chatting with him on IM.  He treated me as a confidante, sharing personal history, aspirations, and asking for advice in his personal life. I feel he trusted me, and had I had the opportunity to meet him in person, I think we could have carried on an easy conversation based on what we already knew about one another.  I never talked about him to my immediate friends or family; there was no need, because he was one of my virtual friends.  It didn’t make his presence less important in my life, but I can divide my friends into two groups: online friends, and real-time friends.  There has been some overlap, as I’ve gotten to meet people face-to-face that I had initially only known online, but for the most part, there is a clear dichotomy.

That dichotomy is painfully apparent when a member of the online community passes away.  How do you grieve? The other people that you know who are grieving are also virtual friends, and your family doesn’t have the same relationship with the online friend that they would have with a neighborhood, school, or family friend.  I’m trying to find my way through this paradigm, and I don’t like it. I feel the loss of SpySentinel deeply, but it’s more abstract to my family.  I want to hug the people who knew him, but they’re all online; hugs are just virtual.  For now, I take comfort in knowing that there are many of us grieving in the same way, and missing SpySentinel’s presence.  I know I’m not alone in my loss. This doesn’t make it easier, but I realize I still have people with which I can share my feelings.

SpySentinel, Matt. rest in peace. Your life was too short, but your impact was felt.  You are not forgotten.

  • Dave Booth65

    I also counted him as a virtual friend even though I only knew him for such a short time. He seemed like a really friendly and helpful guy. I would always be deeply saddened by the passing of even a stranger at such a young age but having even an online connection makes it much worse.

    So tragic.......RIP Matt.

    • Melvin_deal

      I never had the opportunity to know him as I only recently joined this forum. I once had a neighbor die in my arms from a massive heart attack... with no history of heart problems.  He was only my neighbor and I only had neighborly interactions with him... but I was affected deeply!

      Being here right now. Surrounded in our homes (at Holiday) by the ones we love (even if we don't like or disagree with)  will hopefully ground us all into what is most important!

      Today is a most wondrous gift and privilege... that is why they call it the Present!


      Seems like a snap, then!
      We move on carrying dust
      from good years gone by.

  • Rogersteffen

    "In my land" 

    i have gone away 
    you may think 
    in silence 
    but i 
    am always 
    in every single heart beat
    every breath 

    look in to the heavens
    in to the blue 
    of the sky
    and i 
    am there

    i am 
    every whisp
    of white
    in every cloud 
    gone by

    if you look to the dark blues of night 
    reach up 
    my heart still beats

    in my land
    there are no words
    but my love 
    this is with out 

    i carry on 
     the broadest 

    the glow 
    you built 

    thank you 
    loving me

    look again
    were eagles 

    to the 
    blue of heaven
    where god 


  • needTOS

    I have known him for several years online and have spent many an hour IMing him. It pains me to know that I'll never get the chance to speak with him again.

  • Mail

    It's very, very tragic. What an appalling way to die.  It's beyond belief.

  • Dan

    I never had the chance to deal with him on any level, yet I feel like I knew him somehow.  So sad... 

  • Ranget

    RIP  🙁

  • David

    Very well written from your  heart. No one could have said this better.

  • Cheaquettaj

    Oh sweet heart, I understand what you're saying and sympathize completely. The virtual world does away with a lot of the physical restraints and complications of this world. Things like time, space, and those silly physical misconception that keep us disconnected in the physical world aren't a vital part of the "friend" equation in the virtual world. SpySentinel obviously became a friend no matter the lack of physical contact. He shared with you things that he may have never shared face to face in the physical world with others. I know this because I've shared personal issues with my online friends that I actually have never communicated to my close "real world" friends. I really believe it's because we can just give from our hearts and minds online without all the crappy social misconceptions or restraints. SpySentinel definitely made a positive impact in your life and those he helped at this website. Some people spend an entire life time in selfish endeavors and never make positive impacts on others. Your considerate words tell me that he will be missed by everyone he touched both physically and virtually.

  • metta

    Whenever I think of geeks to go, I think of SpySentinel.  In my life, there are few who could have stood tall in his shoes.  I was a brand new user with an absurd number of computer issues.  SpySentinel was always available.  He was more patient than most anyone I have ever met.  He really made me feel not only safe, but he didn't make me feel stupid or wrong.  He hung in there with me.  If he suggested something and it didn't work, he had something else up his sleeve. 

    I rarely get treated with the patience, kindness, and respect that I got from SpySentinel.  It is sad news--this is the first I had heard it.  He is the first one I would have gone to for malware problems. 

    The poem below says it all.  Why so young?  The world needs people like him.  Even though he lived mostly in my thoughts (the computer was too far gone), his memory is one of the few I can go to when I need to know that there are still good people out there.  And I do pray his soul is free and happy.  If anyone earned it, he did.  RIP to a really special young man who, if I, who barely knew him, feel really sad, must be truly sorely missed here at geeks to go.  My condolences to the entire staff and anyone else who had the pleasure to know him, however briefly.  I guess the best thing I can say is that anyone who knew him, in whatever capacity, was privileged.  SpySentinel, you will be missed. 

    • Sari


      Thank you for your kind comments. He was indeed very good with our users, and he was greatly valued for that. I'm glad you had the opportunity to be touched by this young man - it's a sad legacy, but it's one of which he could have been proud. 

  • metta/traveler818

    If you are a man of kindness, patience, and integrity, then in a real way, you knew SpySentinel.

  • Moonahx

    R.I.P SpySentine

  • scarletb79

    Ciao SpySentinel, ciao Matt.