Dead Facebook Friends?
Is the Internet haunting us forever?
I have a lot of dead Facebook friends. It seems like a shocking sentence, but you probably do as well, even if you’re fairly young. I have at least six on my small friends list of 300 or so. These people have passed on, moved into another realm—but they’re still hanging around their social media accounts, and mine. I've deleted some in the past but I'm not quite sure what the dead social media friends etiquette is. Do you? I don’t know if I should have done that. I’m assuming that when someone in my close family or circle dies, it will be like a punch in the gut to see them on social media. It seems that this is another the world and our old ways cannot keep up with the age of the internet. This, to me, is clearly one of those situations. Maybe it's the new normal. It will take time for me to adjust to this part of the internet.
Death in the internet age has changed death forever. If the deceased have social media accounts and even if they don’t. Somehow, no one gets out of this life without being on the Internet. Even newspaper obituaries are posted on the web and people can leave online condolences. Social media accounts are now where we usually first hear of deaths. Old high school classmates, former coworkers, and sadly even close family members. That would be an awful way to find out about a close relative’s passing, not that there's a great way. Gone are the days that you would receive a private, kind phone call from someone with the news. Even if the family doesn't post on Facebook, someone else usually will. Some people post of deaths of people that they aren't close to, or close to anymore, before the family can even think to address it on social media, that is, if they even wanted it on there. People, please pause before you do this, and don't. Just don’t. Respect the family. All of the family members may not have been reached yet. There is really no need for someone on the periphery to jump online as an attention-seeker and post a very private family matter. Allow the family time to digest the news and post it if they choose. I have noticed that if anyone posts about someone’s death, even if they haven’t see or reached out to the person in decades, others post that they are sorry for their loss, giving condolences to maybe someone who doesn’t deserve them. I know of someone who is basically the worst kind of attention-seeker and never fails to post about people’s deaths, even if they were just an acquaintance. How can anyone need attention that badly?
Another thing, I get the birthday reminders, and it gives me pause. It seems to prolong the grieving. Sigh, it's not their birthday anymore, or is it? It feels like the social media accounts will forever haunt us. Deceased relatives pop up in the memories section and in tagged posts. This is not to say that I don’t ever think about people when they’ve passed on without social media reminders. It means that sometimes I am not prepared. I just popped online to read some funny things in the newsfeed, check my messages or look for a recipe that I’ve saved. I don't know if families should take them down or not. I would lean towards not. It is a piece of the person that passed. It is a lively place, filled with their happy pictures, written thoughts and friends. The internet has changed our lives and even our deaths.