Death, Social Media, and a not so Social Life

By February 20, 2011 death, life, social media

So what happens to your “social media life” when you go to that great big blog post in the sky?  Is it a lingering death as the various entities involved decide your account hasn’t had enough activity and deactivate your account?  Recently (well maybe not recently but recent enough to still be on the brain…) a few friends and acquaintances have passed on.  One University of Florida Fine Arts friend finally succumbed to cancer after a long long fight while a Wellington High School acquaintance up and died suddenly. 

Both of these individuals had Facebook, and I imagine MySpace or other social media accounts.  In fact, I learned of both of these individual’s passing not through phone, email, or face to face contact but through a direct message and status update in Facebook respectively.  While social media channels are quick to get the message out, I feel notifying “friends” of someone’s death on Facebook cheapens their death somehow.  It seems lazy.

And what is to be done with their accounts now?  Are their last words going to just float around out there forever?


I guess letting people know about one of your gallery showings is better than what my last words would be should I slip in the kitchen and break my neck tonight:

(I have a cold.)

Should these accounts be left activated as a testament to their owner’s life?  The “walls” on these accounts are still very much alive with “friends” stopping by to mention how much they miss them or to write little anecdotal accounts of some random event in the past.

Or should the accounts be terminated so their “walls” will not get filled up with notifications to come play some game or find out some neat facts about so and so.


If I were to croak tomorrow, I think I’d want all my accounts shut down.  Blip. Just gone.  No goodbyes. No lingering writhing of keys pounding out warm (or in my case cold) accounts of how much I’ll be missed (or not).  Just gone.

Which brings me to my next question?  Why do people not treat each other in life how they treat those who have died?  If you have really nice things to say about someone, want to reflect or miss someone intensely, don’t wait until they are dead to let the whole world know these things.  Call them up now.  Go out to dinner now. Tell them you love them and how much they’ve impacted your life. Now.

Yesterday, one of my neighbors came by the house to let me know the gentleman across the street had died.  He didn’t just die.  He died alone.  Very alone.  Apparently he had passed away several weeks ago and no one (including myself) had been persistent in seeing what the hell was going on.  In my defense, I had only met the man once and seen him 10 times or less in the 8+ years I’ve lived across the street.  I guess that really isn’t a defense but he apparently worked nights and I work during the day.  Our schedules just didn’t match up and we were both introverted enough to just leave each other alone.

What is in us that allows us to be “social” in one context (which is ephemeral and without substance) and completely ignore those in another (real life) context?