Death and Social Media

In 2012 there was a rather morbid debate on what should happen to the Facebook pages of deceased users. Loved ones felt that they should have the power to delete these accounts or at the very least control them.

Facebook responded by creating legacy accounts. Accounts that memorialized a user once they passed away. Users can decide who their legacy contact is and what to do with their account once they pass.  In essence, Facebook created a virtual cemetery.

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(https://www.facebook.com/help/103897939701143).

In 2098 dead Facebook profiles will outnumber living.

Because we are aware of our mortality, unconsciously even, all of our behavior is a way to survive and cope. Social media keeps us alive. It helps us deal with death – our own or a loved ones.

**

Earlier this year a beautiful young girl from Queens, NY was brutally murdered. She went out for a jog and was attacked.

After her death, this young woman’s social media profile went from 1000 followers to 10.5K – her name became a hashtag. She was immortalized. Thousands of users from across the globe commented on her photo’s – speculating on what could’ve been.

I began to follow her as well – scrolling through her photo’s to comfort myself. She was gone, but looking through her vacation made me feel like she was still here, at least a part of her.

**

Five years ago my sisters friend passed away. She went to a party and overdosed on drugs – She was found passed out in her apartment. It was very sad. She was only 19. Our town was overwhelmed with grief, she was very young and had a lot of potential. Who knows what she could have been? A doctor, a lawyer …

Left behind was her Facebook profile – the weeks after her death friends and family posted messages on her wall. “We miss you.” “Always in our thoughts.” Soon, those comments stopped. However, when I look at her Facebook every now and then – I see messages from her mom.

“Hello sweetheart missing you soo much Ashley! Stay close to mommy love you !!!!”

Her mom post on her wall every single day. Leaving her messages about how the day was, if she ran into a friend, a memory she remembered of them together. I think Facebook realizes the value of these pages – they bring comfort.

Our lives are fleeting. We cannot say with 100% certainty that we will wake up tomorrow and that is horrifying. These pages are our permanent footprint. They represent us and in our heart of hearts we feel that having these profiles will keep us alive.

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