Thursday, January 24, 2013
Is Facebook the New Graveside?
Facebook has become such an integral part of our relationships with old and current friends. We are so accustomed to exchanging jokes, articles, pictures, and the events of daily life. Though a new phenomena, it seems natural when a Facebook friends dies gather at their page to grieve immediately following the loss. Alicia Eler, in an excellent article A Life Lived Online: How We Talk About Death on Social Media, observed how the Facebook page becomes an ongoing place of comfort:
After a user dies, friends visit the page and express their sadness, shock and grief. Later many return and continue updating and conversing with the user, often times sharing events and feelings as if the person were still alive. It's kind of like talking with a ghost.
The Facebook page becomes a shrine to the deceased. In fact, Facebook has a formal policy where immediate family members can "memorialize" a Facebook account to preserve it and restrict access to friends only (see http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=842). Of course, a family would be wise to back up all of the information possible since Facebook does not have a contractual obligation to preserve the information.
Do you visit sites of deceased loved ones? What do you do that provides comfort? Please leave your observations in the comments.