Why Michael Jackson Was A Big Deal

If you haven't already, please check out my initial post about Michael Jackson's death, as well as NPR Music's exhaustive coverage of the events of the last 24 hours.

I don't know what it was like for you all, but just about every Facebook post I looked at yesterday was about Michael Jackson. And I'm not on Twitter, but I can imagine that the reaction has been even more fervent in that world. [It has. —ed.] Michael Jackson's albums are currently taking up the top 14 spots on Amazon's bestseller list. And right now, I'm listening to BBC's World Have Your Say on my local NPR affiliate, where people are calling in from as far away as Antarctica to share their thoughts about the pop legend.

The majority of the posts and feedback I've been reading and listening to are tinged with sweetness, sadness and nostalgia. Yet some people are wondering how we can forget or overlook the ugliness that marred Jackson's personal life, from child-molestation charges to questionable parenting.

For many of us — and I think this is why there's a lot of unabashed adoration and disbelief in the wake of his death — we've never known a world without Michael Jackson. From the time we were young enough to even know what music was, we've been fascinated and awed by Jackson. And in a pre-Internet, pre-computer age, knowing that there were fans all around the world listening to the very same songs as we were, it was the first time we got a sense of how close we could feel to people we would never meet, living in countries we might never visit.

We take globalism for granted today, but back when a lot of us had yet to travel outside our own cities, states or countries, Michael Jackson was the first person to blanket our world, to connect us through fandom and song. He was a huge force in making our small and young lives feel massive, at least vicariously. As a kid, there's not much more you desire than to feel part of something larger than you.

Favorite memories of Michael Jackson? Why did he mean something to you? Feel free to share.

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