Death by Social Media

The title probably appears intriguing, but it’s likely a bit misleading. Social media might be responsible for deaths (as in people being harassed on-line and committing suicide), but in this case this post is about an old acquaintance announcing the death of her child with social media.

She’s lives far away from her family, and she probably used various platforms to share her life with those she grew up with. I used to do the same with FaceBook but finally got a bit creeped out. In the beginning, they were sending me ads in languages I don’t speak, so I didn’t worry so much about how my data was being used there (because obviously they had no idea who I was). In the end, though, they were sending me ads for things that I might actually be interested in, and I jumped off. The account is still valid, but I have no notifications on there and don’t look at it. I should probably close that down…(note to self…ok, just did that!) I still use the same company with Instagram, but it’s mostly to look at goats with sweaters. (Sometimes you just need to look at goats with sweaters….)

This friend had a child who committed suicide, and I had a conversation with some mutual acquaintances about how weird it was to have learned about this on Instagram.

There was another friend from a former iteration of my life who passed away about ten years ago, and her account on FaceBook was still active last I saw. In the beginning it was nice for her friends and family to have a place to remember her, but it became weird.

I get it, though, that when you live on another continent far from the rest of your family, social media can be an easy way to share with the people you care about. I also get it that when a friend has died, you want some way to talk about them with other people who also cared about them.

There were always two sides to social media: 1) those who used it to connect more with people and share the things that make up most of our lives: weddings, children’s birthdays and, of course, deaths of loved ones 2) those who tried to monetize the folks from point no. 1. What’s kind of great, though, is that there is very little to be monetized out of a death announcement, outside of the traditional insurance scams from another epoch when scammers would follow the obituaries and try to filch money from grieving widows and widowers. Although I wonder if burial services will show up as “featured content”: a percentage off on caskets? 2 for 1 flower deals? I don’t think so, though, jeesh I hope not.

But it’s kind of like here, my blog. I’d say that the vast majority of bloggers are selling something, or have titles like “Top ten ways to reuse old gym shoes” or “Five exercises for a flatter stomach”. Me? I just want to write about positive things and put some nicer content on the internet. I want to talk about climbing, sharing, yoga, being kind to one another, and I want to write and publish without going through a process. It’s just me and Foro and my computer, and I can write about anything I want to and to publish, all I need to do is hit “send”. We don’t have a lot of followers, but we do have some.

So this is for you, with an order from Foro (who can be intransigent, he doesn’t look like it but he can be pretty demanding): hug someone you love today. If you want to go one step further, send a little note to someone you care about but haven’t seen in a while, just a “hello, I was thinking of you and hope you’re well”.

And if you learn about an acquaintance’s death by social media, put a note on your calendar for, like, three months from now, to contact the person and see how they’re doing. Usually there’s action after a funeral, things to do, cake pans to return and that sort of thing. In three months or so there’s usually a slump. You wake up in the morning and you forget that anything’s wrong, and the death hits you like someone slapping you with a cricket bat. So try to be there for that person when everyone has gone home but they aren’t done yet with mourning.

While I was writing, Foro was scrolling through his Instagram feed. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜˜

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