Elisa Lam’s 2013 death at the Cecil Hotel has been marked by strange coincidences and conspiracy theories. The bizarre elevator video of her and the way that she was found in the hotel water tank only contributed to the mystery of her passing. To add to the enigma, most of the world singularly knew her voice from her Tumblr account nouvelle-nouveau. Netflix’s docuseries Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel takes snippets from Lam’s personal blog to establish the story around her death. While it no longer features new posts, Lam’s Tumblr account is still up, and you can still sift through its archive.
The 21-year-old Canadian student wrote on her blog prolifically, so it became a valuable source for investigators and web sleuths alike. Crime Scene uses the Tumblr account not only to fill out the timeline of Lam’s disappearance case, but also to reconstruct her voice and personality. If you grew up in the late aughts, you’re probably familiar with the hodgepodge format of Lam’s Tumblr. The blog is headlined by a Chuck Palahniuk quote: “You’re always haunted by the idea you’re wasting your life.” On her page, you’ll find witty posts and reposts concerning fashion, literature, and culture. Lam also wrote candidly about her struggles with bipolar disorder, which officials listed as a significant factor in her accidental drowning ruling.
Lam documented her travels on her Tumblr account, which led some to believe that she may have had a stalker since she occasionally posted about getting unwanted attention. The odd thing was that Lam’s blog kept updating after her death, which led to speculations about a potential perpetrator hacking her account — today, it’s widely believed that Lam used a queue to schedule posts into the future. Her last post is from December 2013, a few months after she passed away in February. The docuseries itself ends with a slightly altered version of Lam’s very own poignant words from November 2012: “I suppose that is the human condition, to feel so big, so important, but…just a flicker in the universe…and the struggle to come to terms with those two truths.”
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