Wednesday, 24 October 2012

How Facecbook Killed Death

Warning: Sensitive topic. Stop reading if you can't handle it.

Clearly Facebook is getting a too big part of everybody's lives - including my own. What stuns me, in a very bad way, is what happens on Facebook when people die. With between 150 and 200 friends, I occasionally have to red "RIP" statuses or similar, and even though I don't know the grandma of my friend's friend, I still can't help it to feel a bit sad. A family more or less known to me is now going through hell, having a damn hard time. Of course it's sad - I'm not a monster without feelings.

What makes me sick is what Facebook does to death. Highly unpleasant anyway, it is somehow treated without dignity. I am not meaning that someone shouldn't mention their loved ones and wish them well - at least that was what I thought that I didn't mind. While writing these very words, however, I started doubting what I just wrote. Where does the boarder go - what is private? I guess Facebook is too big of a deal now to just let it pass.

Recently a friend on Facebook lost his brother, what I learned through a status update. Ok - we are not that well known, and for me I guess it is natural to learn over Facebook.Yet, while, out of curiosity, clicking into the friend's profile to see what's going on, and what's up with the really sad status, I notice that someone acquainted with my friend wrote on his wall. Something in the tone of "random babble, bad news", as in "do you still X, by the way, your brother died, did you hear it?". Something that makes me wanna puke and explode at the same time. Who in their right minds would post something like that on someone's wall?! Like some random everyday post - it's just so damn wrong. Imagine learning about one of your dear ones passing away through a notification on Facebook - it's disgusting. Is this what the world is turning into? Is this not the situation where you go personally to the person who, after all, just lost his brother? Or at least pick up your phone and call him?

Another thing that makes me sick is linking people that have passed away "I miss you so much Jonathan Smith, RIP RIP" allowing anybody to click into some person who only 12 hours ago played Farmville and wrote statuses about how lovely the weather is, and what their days will bring. It is so morbid - it makes you wonder, as an outsider, what happened, why so early - and that regarding people you don't even know. Then I ask myself: should it not be more private - do RIP-ers really want that to happen? People that never knew their dear ones sneaking around on their profiles? It just seems wrong. 

Returning to my friend, there are also other things that seem wrong to me, namely RIP-Facebook groups. I guess in one way it is nice to talk about the deceased, your nicest memories, sharing pictures. I understand it.   So it is not the groups that I am against. What makes me sick about it is the linking and starting posts with "please share", or "please invite your friends", thereby turning a person into a group request on your side bar, or into a post in the news-stream that gets scrolled through thousand times a day - is it not too impersonal? Is it not misplaced?

Yes, social networks are getting a bigger and bigger part of our lives, and the topic of death is part of life. But some things should simply be obvious. It is a sensitive topic, treat it that way.

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