He Held No Grudges: The Death that Stopped Millennial Twitter in its Tracks

As young people heard of USB’s student leader Mauro Cayama’s passing, Twitter became an X-Ray of the Venezuelan millennial soul.

No one tweets about death like Mauro Cayama; his words would send chills down everyone’s spines:

“If I die, I want you to know I love you, I harbored no ill-will to anyone.”

A few hours after that, he was gone.

Cause of death: respiratory failure, brought on by bronchitis.

On Venezuelan Twitter — a sample top-heavy with teenagers and twentysomethings —, death has become a punchline. If you don’t get shot by a malandro, you die because you don’t have food, or you just wish to die because, sometimes, living in this country drains you of willpower. People tweet these sentiments freely, as some sort of nihilist humor that we’ve grown used to.

But even though untimely death has become routine, Mauro’s passing struck hard. All of the sudden, people started to reflect on how the same could happen to any of us, how we waste our time in a country where things move so quickly that there’s no use in making plans, how we interact within our online community, but we’re still oblivious to what others near us might be going through.

Mauro was a proud shitposter (that’s ironic/offensive low-quality content that’s somehow still funny). His irreverent sense of humor was always on full display, along with your typical dose of politics, debates, conversations and complaints. Of course, no one thinks you’ll die from a treatable disease like bronchitis. Not in 2018.

People offered help, he reassured everyone that it was fine and life would go on. Some of his acquaintances suggested maybe he didn’t even mean what he wrote about dying.

The outpour of reactions to his death ranged from condolences and stories from his friends, to disbelief and anger against the government and the crisis of the healthcare system. In fact, the media was quick to assume that Mauro’s death was caused by the lack of medicines, that he passed away while being rushed to Hospital Central.

His mother was quick to shut the rumors down, alleging that he was receiving treatment and died in a private clinic. She asked for help to spread the truth, in honor of her son’s memory and the legacy of honesty he left as a student leader in la USB.

Was it the right prescription? Was it enough? No one knows. No one reported it, either. Why?

It’s been a few weeks since his passing, and life is still as hectic as ever. Young Venezuelans are still joking on Twitter, posting memes and silly rants, because that’s just how we cope with things. Chavista Twitter copes by remembering El Comandante; Doña Twitter copes by retweeting unconfirmed rumors, in all-caps and a poorly photoshopped picture of Nicolás Maduro as Satan.

Coping. That’s what we do.

Coping with the harsh reality while keeping the tiniest hope alive. Thanks to other people who, like Mauro, pry smiles out of this mess. In the end, it’s another way of, sometimes unknowingly, lending a hand to those in need.

Rest in peace, Maureck El Keksami, The TRANSuniverse’s Shitposter. We miss you.