Death and Facebook
“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”
Death Be Not Proud -John Donne
Can’t say with any certainty whether that old bag of bones known as the Grim Reaper knows how social media has impacted his work
Don’t know if he ever reads Facebook status updates and gnashes his bony teeth because he just learned about a fabulous party he wasn’t invited to or if he ever gets frustrated when he sees pictures of his friends on amazing vacations in places that have names he can’t pronounce.
What I do know is that Facebook and social media in general have definitely impacted what happens after the skeletal dude with the scythe does his job.
This Is Not An Academic Piece
I am not a sociologist, psychologist nor do I play a shrink on television so don’t ask me to give you the scientific reasons for why some things happen. Your role here is to agree, disagree or sit there slackjawed with a fistful of Twinkies.
Now that we have gotten the legal stuff out of the way let’s resume our talk about Facebook and death.
The prompt for this particular post came from a Facebook reminder I received about my friend’s birthday. I like those reminders because they are a big part of why I look like I am exceptionally thoughtful as opposed to just thoughtful.
Under normal circumstances this reminder would have been great and I would have come up with something witty like, ‘Happy Birthday, you are really old now” except it doesn’t go over well when the person has died.
Yep, that notice was for a friend of mine who died last year.
When people care about someone however old they are when they pass is immaterial. I can tell you it was easier to say goodbye to my grandparents because when you are in your nineties it is natural but it doesn’t mean I miss them less.
Still when you die in your forties it is more shocking and consequently harder to accept which makes me wonder if having a Facebook page is good for communal mourning.
In the situation I am thinking about it appears to have helped some people. I watched as a personal page was turned into a group page upon which people shared their grief and leaned on each other. They told stories about our friend and we gained some insight we might not have had.
A Snapshot In Time
It also reminds me about how our social media presence provides a snapshot in time. If I dropped dead (don’t panic family, I feel good) and my Blog, Facebook and Twitter were frozen what would I leave behind?
Would it be something profound? Would it be insightful? Would people take comfort in it?
It is hard to say.
If the bony guy caught me off guard maybe you’d be left with some snarky status update about mean moms or parents who act like jerks at drop-off and pick up. Maybe it would be a response to some 140 character tweet and you’d have no clue what to make of it
Fortunately for me I have danced with the bony guy once or twice and I know his moves. He drops his left just before he swings so I always know which way to step. It is a good thing he is already dead because the last two shots I landed would have killed him.
My grandfather would have loved to have seen his lessons paid off, but I digress.
Facebook As Messenger Of Death
It sounds a bit grim and somewhat morbid but Facebook also serves as a messenger of death. It is how I heard about a different friend and my great aunt.
Got to admit it was a bit odd and awkward to find out that someone had died that way. But in some ways it makes sense because a small group of people had begun to mourn and when you do so online you open it up to a much larger crowd and as more people get involved it becomes more likely and much easier for the news to reach someone before the telephone call.
It is not necessarily a bad thing, just another one of the changes that have come via social media.
What about you? Do you have any thoughts, feelings or ideas you want to share here?