This morning, I was made aware of a piece of news that escaped my attention back in January.
Aleksey Vayner has died.
When I read the headline, I had no idea who Aleksey Vayner was. I probably wouldn’t have clicked on it or given it a second thought, if it hadn’t been followed by, “the Yale Grad With the Infamous Video Resume”.
Infamous video resume?! What is this they speak of?! I love a good viral video as much as the next person; how could I have missed this one? (Apparently, it had its major moment in 2006, when I was probably in Cabo on Spring Break, and slightly less attached to my computer.)
As the vintage clip played on YouTube, and I began to read his story, intrigue quickly dissipated into a murky puddle of empathy and guilt.
Upon graduation from Yale, Vayner sent a video resume to UBS. As we all learned in Legally Blonde, video resumes can be a great way to set yourself apart and show your true personality. Unfortunately for Vayner, he is not a buxom blonde with a sparkling personality, and he also lives in the real world.
In the lengthy compilation, titled “Impossible is Nothing,” he speaks on the meaning of success while awkwardly showcasing his alleged athletic prowess across multiple sports. You could probably make this kind of stuff up, but there are few who could actually make it real. It’s not difficult to understand how this video spread like kerosene-encouraged wildfire. Michael Cera and Neil Patrick Harris provided perfect parodies, while the New York Timesheralded it as, ‘The Resume Mocked ‘Round the World.’ The only problem is that it wasn’t just the resume being mocked; it was Aleksey Vayner. People weren’t laughing at an intended piece of entertainment; they were laughing at an actual human being.
In today’s world of reality television, the line between hilarious and too far is blurry and ever-shifting. Though I’ve laughed my way through multiple failed American Idol auditions, it hasn’t been without a twinge of conscience. I’ve always wondered what it must be like for those kids to go back to school and stomach the insults. But at least those kids signed a waiver and made a choice. They were seeking fame, even if they hoped for a kinder breed.
Aleksey Vayner was trying to get a job, and he ended up being bullied by the Internet – mostly for being just plain unlikeable. The Double Rainbow guy has managed to capitalize slightly on his own similar 15 seconds, ahh-ing his way into the hearts of stoners everywhere, but in Vayner’s less Dude-like case, his hubris reeks of insecurity, and his overall disposition just makes you sort of sad. Last year, he changed his name to Alex Stone, but I’m guessing that didn’t lead to a whole new life.
According to the Daily Mail, the night before he died, a friend wrote on his Facebook wall, “’Do not, anyone, sell this idiot ANY pills! Damned egoist, pick up the phone, who’s going to take care of mom? [you could] sell your source code and f**k off to costa rica. [even] paypal would pay you 2-3 hundred thousand. pick up the phone, bastard.’”
The entire story is obviously tragic, but it does serve as an opportunity to once again consider the whole ease-of-oversharing-slash-lack-of-reason-and-or-responsibility thing that has come to mire the reputation of the Internet Age. Which brings me to a recent request from a dinner companion: “No blog posts!! Can’t we just communicate honestly without fear of repercussions?” First of all, duh, I would never use your real name. Second of all, when well-intentioned job apps are circulated as fodder for the comedy-starved masses and teenagers get jailed for sarcastic, albeit crassly ignorant, Facebook posts, I’m not entirely certain we can.