The day I wanted to die – a personal confession or: Why the shutdown of a cluster is making people live


I have to make a confession. A very personal one. I wanted to die.

I planned everything. I planned how to do it. I organized the tools to do it. I wrote down how to gain access to my email account, my server, my IRC sessions and who was to be informed. I was in a deep depression. I saw no way out to stop this feeling other than to commit suicide.

The pressure was to much for me. I was working since January on different projects with Telecomix and others. We were helping egyptians to gain back their connection to the internet, helped in Syria, Lybia and many other countries to give the opressed a possibility to speak. We made it possible that their voices were being heard. Literally, I fought for that. I fought against my sleeping cycle, eating habits and my need for recreation. On some days it was normal to stay awake for 30 or more hours.

I saw and read things I would never have considered possible. In the last months we helped many people to get connected to the internet, to speak up and to show the world what was happening. Some people got lost. I never saw them again and I do not know if they just moved away from us or if they got arrested or killed. I do not fucking know and I will never know.

Every day in the media we see so many bad news from all over the world – news which are bad but which do not affect us directly. The news about these people (or lack thereof) who were talking to me affected me deeply. The pressure arose to help, to help these people who struggle hard for their right to speak freely. The more we helped the people the more the responsibility I felt grew to a new level.

I could not fucking sleep any more. I drank way to much. I smoked more than was good for me. I saw no more meaning in my life than helping other people. Over that, I forgot what I needed for myself. Sleep, recreation, movies, music. Hanging around with my friends and not thinking about people on the ground and what to do next.

One day I realised that I was lost. Lost in this life that was not mine. Lost in a life where I only served others, people considering me a hero. Noone saw that i was just a little boy who wanted to play around with techology and write papers about the future of communication.

Long story short: It all needed to end for me. I saw no other way than going. Leaving. Not beeing a hero any more. I planned to commit suicide a day after the CCC Camp. Everything was prepared. But there it happened. We closed down the activist cluster I was with. I met many great people for the first time in real-life and many of them have the same problem. My friends were there and showed me that life is worth living it.

With the reboot of the cluster I will reboot myself. I am starting to make plans for my life again. I am not lost anymore. I have my place in the hacking and activists scene and I have my friends all over the world. I am not alone and the facts I considered a burden are not a burden anymore but opened my eyes to what is important in life: To communicate what you feel. And if my communication of my feelings helps others to do the same, it was worth it.

So, shutting myself down to reboot. It is time. reboot -h now.

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28 Antworten zu “The day I wanted to die – a personal confession or: Why the shutdown of a cluster is making people live”

  1. chrisk sagt:

    The Telecomix project was designed without a „Stop“-button. It just kept going, while ignoring all alarm signals, all the red lamps that were triggered as the system slowly was heading for a black hole of destruction. So it had to be stopped, or rather paused and shutdown, for these flaws to be repaired.

    We often forget that the components of the „system“ are humans. The flickering messages in the IRC-screen do affect us all, and they affect the world. In the future we need a new form of humility, and a plan to work out how make things work in a much more sustainable way.

    The Telecomix system shall not boot up again, until these problems are resolved.

  2. Dennis sagt:

    Hey Stephan!

    I just wanted to say: Even though I am not a huge advocate of the pirate party. Your drive and enthusiasm to change things as they are, really inspire by again and again.

    Everyone, and I believe the greater the person the more severe, is sometimes overwhelmed by his life and starts having doubts about it all.

    Good luck with your reboot! I am curious to see where life will take you next!

    Dennis (aka xardias)

  3. lval sagt:

    Ultimately we make each other happy by being not by doing. Reboot is a good choice <3

  4. monki sagt:

    So glad to hear it turned out well. Like chrisk is saying, its one thing for a cluster to go on without a stop button, another for the people involved to do it.

    Figuring out how cluster work can go on without takning its tolls on the active participants is a key issue. Information and knowledge being shared and open is also a way to make sure people that need a break can take that break without feeling guilty for the projects they are passionate about having to suffer. Other people are there to keep it afloat, everyone needs a break.

    We bio-computers are not maybe for infinite uptime!

    Really great of you to write this post. As you say, more people have these feelings, but when projects and world events keep going on it can be hard to ventilate them even though it is really important that also that communication is open.


  5. march. sagt:

    wirklich gut dass Du es nicht getan hast!

    danke für alles was Du übermenschliches geleistet hast. gut dass Du jetzt rebootest.

    denke Du könntest ‚stressbearbeitung nach belastenden ereignissen‘ gebrauchen [#sbe/#cism]. es gibt für notfallhelfer, die traumatisierendes erlebt haben, spezielle notfallseelsorger – auch in berlin.

    darf ich Dich bitten Dir professionelle hilfe zu suchen?

  6. fo0 sagt:

    With the reboot of the cluster, all telecomix agent reboot a part of their life.

  7. Rob sagt:

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  8. AnoNico sagt:

    Telecomix, with its agents, has spreaded seeds all over the world. Even if the cluster is down for a moment, its ideas are part of us all now.
    You’ve made the best decision, for you, for Telecomix, for us. Take care of you, and thanks for everything.
    A frenchfag.

  9. maloki sagt:

    I’ve been there, sort of. It never got that extreme though. But the pressure did get to me, and my body rebooted on it’s own. That is why I’ve less active in the Telecomix community the past year.
    Other things have occupied me, and I’ve learned to live again. Which is important.

    It is very important to find balance, even if it is hard. I hope you will take care of yourself now!
    And if you want any support and bounce ideas of where you can start feel free to contact me.

    There are many ways out there to burn out, and I’ve tried a few of them.

    Currently also listening to your talk from CCCamp, it would have broken my heart to find out that you were gone after it.
    Glad that you found a good personal connection with other agents while at the camp, and got a bit of a recharge to your batteries.

    Take care – maloki

  10. […] The day I wanted to die – a personal confession or: Why the shutdown of a cluster is making people… (tags: Wrb urbach) Bewerten: Teilen Sie dies mit:StumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeSei der Erste, dem dieser post gefällt. […]

  11. gratis sagt:

    <333 Respect

    It is said that we teach what we most need to learn. In some ways it seems that we all need to learn how to communicate better by speaking from our heart. Thank you so much for deciding to stay with us and let us know about the pain in your heart. Thank you for finding your way through that dark place. The well is very deep. much like the rabbit hole. We have to climb out into the sunshine, breath again, talk with friends, laugh, cry COMMUNE and COMMUNICATE with our kind and with kindness <3 The world is harsh, but so much better with you in it =)

  12. Boomel sagt:

    Das nächste mal wenn ich dich sehe, hau ich dir voll auf die Glocken und zeig dir wie schön es trotz Schmerz ist, hier rumzulaufen.

    Und das ist noch der nette hobbypsychologische Ansatz Alter!

    mann mann mann…

    • macbroadcast sagt:

      ..find ich jetzt nicht sehr passend. Ich gebe zu Herr Urbach neigt zur Dramatik, aber ich wünsche ihm trotzdem nichts schlechtes.

      Kopf hoch Stefan !


    /b/rother i too had that delemma when we try and help others in a world that are killing people and corprate meadia that hides the lies of all governments for the mighty doller.and all the criticizam of people who say things about the way that we help and sometimes they dont have a clue or are brain washed.and i can say it can get alittle overwelming at times.and you feel like is it really worth sometimes you feel that you are not helping enough,well i like to say look back at the begining then look at all that has been accomplished by our services and help from friends who truly believe in making a difference.
    like egypt we helped to run out a evil regime and free the egyptians.tanisia the sme we helped to make a difference there.veniswlia the same.i too felt anquish.and at times why am i doing this.but when i get emails from friends i have made through these times. i had a young girl from venaswalia say hay if your govt comes after you for helping us we here will put you all up and you have a place here among us.and another friend i made from tanisia asking what he could do for me.and how his happy story of finaly being free and happy but a sad pat of his story sayng that they are still being cencored.i thought of you guys how we did this and it seemed flawless.and then seeing the videos sent from friends in these other countries so happy and so proud.and very happy of the new feeling that yes it can be done and now they spread the message why and how it can be please dont give up there are still alot of people who love what we do.and if we donot coninue to help. who will help them?.<3

  14. acid sagt:

    Thank you for choosing to stay with us. It was hard to read your status messages the days before the camp and would be really sad if you stayed on this path.

    I’m still looking forward to empty some beers with you. I’ve always got to much to do but you and telecomix have my biggest respect and I want to help.

  15. jaromil sagt:

    It is true: passionate activism can be very depressive. You need to balance the time of your daily life and keep at hand the most helpful resources to keep contact with non-mediated reality: Nature in primis.

    I think your outing here is very useful to many who will read it, to stimulate reflection and avoid them to feel alone, so i thank you for that.

    At last, soon enough be sure to enjoy what activism gives you back: all the love that you give to others and all the empathy with other humans has enriched your soul and has provided you with a great network that has yet to be explored, made of many people around the world that little by little will give you back love, again and again, in new and unexpected ways.

    And if sometimes you feel too depressed maybe it is time to change your life and for the better, so…. what’s better?
    i’d say: live like a pirate and party like a rockstar XD

  16. […] voulu mourrir … Auteur : b3og7o Pas de commentaire Billet publié initialement sur le blog de Stephan Urbach (@herrurbachtmp), un agent Telecomix. Traduit par @TrisAcatrinei sur cette page, […]

  17. illunatic sagt:

    Many can relate. Moment of silence for the death that wasn’t.

  18. Amr sagt:

    You’ve done well, Stephan. Quite a few people will always make use of your activism, either by receiving direct help, or just by you doing what you enjoy doing. Thanks.

  19. ariel w. sagt:

    I’ve been working so hard for so long at something that has yet to bring me back any sustenance – and yet it is my passion and my pledge – to give my life in service to Other…

    I’ve been pushing mySelf so hard… to do my job [with no salary – yet…] that it just was of „BIG Benefit“ to read your words.

    Thank You.

  20. […] et d’un repas par jour. Ça vous fait rire ? Certains d’entre eux ont  envisagé le pire parce qu’ils n’avaient pas respecté cette règle. Break down, Burn Out sont des mots […]

  21. […] rund um den Arabischen Frühling. Stephan Urbach war ein Teil dieser Gruppe – bis er am Rande seiner physischen Existenz stand. Ein beklemmender Vortrag, der aber auch einen Ausblick darauf gab, wie sich AktivistInnen […]

  22. jochen sagt:

    I am deeply thankful for the existence of people like you and also for you being such a prime example of what true hackers are able to accomplish. But most importantly I am happy for you to have found people to get through this time without doing what you had planned.
    It would have been a great loss to the tech community who needs people like you to understand what wonderful things can be accomplished when brain meets ethics.

  23. […] The day I wanted to die – a personal confession or: Why the shutdown of a cluster is making people… […]

  24. […] said, here is Stephen Urbach’s story of how he came to find himself at that low point and how he and his community found a way to moved […]

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