New famous last words

Social media captures the vibrancy -- and also fragility -- of life. A look at some well-known final tweets

Published July 3, 2012 9:40PM (EDT)

The world is still in shock from the murder of South African model and women's rights advocate Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot and killed on Valentine's Day at the home of her boyfriend, Olympian Oscar Pistorius. Tragically, Steenkamp's last message to the world, left on her Twitter account, was a sweet, girlish message about what to expect from her boyfriend on Valentine's Day.

It's inevitable to not be struck by the irony of the tweet given the circumstances around her death. Our final messages have weight, and sometimes it's a weight too large for social media to bear. Salon contributor Wajahat Ali mulled over his own last words in this essay.  As he points out, many people end up at death’s door with no prior warning, and unwittingly end up tweeting their last words. We decided to look at some of these famous epitaphs, sometimes as poignant as they were unplanned.

By Jaime Cone

Jaime Cone is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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