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An hero is a trolling synonym for committing suicide. The meme originates from the grammatical error of a memorial page dedicated to Mitchel Henderson. It is used widely by trolls on forums where a user post a problem that they are having.
Mitchell Henderson was a seventh grader from Rochester, Minnesota. In 2006, for reasons not entirely known, Mitchell shot himself in the head with a .22-caliber rifle from his parents’ bedroom.
Following Mitchell’s suicide, his friends and classmates created a Myspace memorial to him. As is the case with a typical seventh-grader’s Myspace, the comments contained grammatical errors; which unfortunately, trolls tend to exploit.
One comment stood out in particular:
“He was such an hero, to take it all away. We miss him so, That you should know, And we honor him this day. He was an hero, to take that shot, to leave us all behind. God do we wish we could take it back, And now he’s on our minds. Mitchell was an hero, to leave us feeling like this, Our minds are rubber, our joints don’t work, Our tears fall into abyss. He was an hero, to take that shot, In life it wasn’t his task, He shouldn’t have had to go that way, before an decade’d past. Now he sits there in my heart, this hero of mine, Always there to make me smile, Make me feel just fine. He had courage,that boy did, courage in his heart. To take that shot, To end his pain, To tear us all apart. But in the end, he died in courage. Lacking, nevermore, He died a hero, Mitchell did, And we’ll love him forevermore. We love you like an brother. We miss you so much. We will always love you, kid. Rest In Peace Mitch. ~Lila”
To most, the fact that Lila called Mitch a hero for killing himself is strange. We could speculate that this was a seventh grader who had a difficult time reconciling her feelings about the death of a friend but needed to voice her feelings in order to cope. But to a troll, this was exploitable.
The crux of the “joke” behind “an hero” is the idea that committing suicide is implicitly heroic. The grammatical error is an essential part of the meme, but only for the sake of categorization. Any humor derived from a misspelling is secondary to the “Shock Value” hoped for by the trolls who use it.
Upon examining the contents of the Myspace page, a troll came across a mention of a lost iPod, and fabricated the story that the boy had killed himself because of the lost iPod.
Shortly after Mitchell’s obituary was published, a clipping was posted to MyDeathSpace.com, and eventually to /b/.
The following excerpt comes an article by Mattathias Schwartz, entitled The Trolls Among Us published in the New York Times on August 3rd, of 2008.
Someone hacked Henderson’s MySpace page and gave him the face of a zombie. Someone placed an iPod on Henderson’s grave, took a picture and posted it to /b/. Henderson’s face was appended to dancing iPods, spinning iPods, hardcore porn scenes. A dramatic re-enactment of Henderson’s demise appeared on YouTube, complete with shattered iPod. The phone began ringing at Mitchell’s parents’ home. “It sounded like kids,” remembers Mitchell’s father, Mark Henderson, a 44-year-old I.T. executive. “They’d say, ‘Hi, this is Mitchell, I’m at the cemetery.’ ‘Hi, I’ve got Mitchell’s iPod.’ ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?’ ” He sighed. “It really got to my wife.” The calls continued for a year and a half.
There’s no question that many of these acts violated a number of existing harassment laws. But the meme endured, and searches for “an hero” have persisted since 2006.
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