Learning that someone you loved has passed on is painful but what do you do when you learn this information through social media? How do you react when you’re scrolling through your feed only to discover that death has taken someone you knew or loved?
Realising you have lost someone you knew, finds you questioning when you last saw them, then making a note to yourself to keep in regular contact with all of your social media ‘friends’, people change their profile picture to one with them in it and post memories of time spent together. Digitally announcing the deaths of celebrities are accepted and expected, it is nowadays a similar platform to the news where fans, mourn and post favourite songs, feeling solidarity amongst their peers.
Then there are the social media rules: Do you ‘like’ the page, post an emoji or respectively watch from a distance – what is respectively enough time before you then post items on your own wall?
As times change we remember that we found out about death in the newspapers or in church, but now with the internet with us 24 hours a day we have too much access to everything and can be reduced to laughter or tears at anytime!
Then there is the questions – ‘What happens to your social media when you die?’ Facebook have rules that allow friends and relatives to transform a normal profile into a memorial, by filling in a form they can link to an obituary or they can close the account once proof has been sent that the user is dead. Friends are then able to interact with the memorial page, Facebook has had requests to add ‘deceased’ to their status, an option for friends and family members to control.
Social media etiquette surrounding death is a delicate and highly subjective construct. What one person views as good judgment could translate as incredibly poor taste or downright offensive to others. People are beginning to plan for their own demises in an effort to protect and preserve the online information they’ve cultivated for years.
In an emerging industry called digital legacy management, Facebook have an app called ‘if I die’, a member would record a video message or last wish, a farewell or song, then entrusts a friend to publish this, post-mortem. Another consideration to add to the list when planning your funeral!