The Afterlife on Facebook

Goodlifer: The Afterlife on Facebook

In real life I have a handful of friends that I talk to on a regular basis, on Facebook I have 278 (as of the time of this writing). I rarely converse with most of my digital friends, but it’s just nice to have all my acquaintances gathered in one place. And with one simple update, I can let them all know what I am up to at the moment. It’s just very handy.

A while back I got an invite to a R.I.P. group for a girl whose face I knew from growing up in the same town, but did not really know. She had died tragically after an apartment fire and now the grieving on Facebook was in full effect.

I was very disturbed by the news of this girl’s death, as one would be learning of any person their own age’s untimely passing, but did not feel like I could honestly join this group. How do you participate in the online grieving of someone you had no real-life relationship with? But I could also not make myself hit the “Ignore” button and make this request go away. So, it’s there, in my Requests box, where it has been for the last few months. I’m not sure what to do.

Eerie still is that this girl shows up in my “People You May Know” box every now and then, it’s strange to think of a deceased person still having a Facebook account. But then again, if I can’t delete so much as the group request who will bring themselves to delete her entire profile, thereby obliterating her online presence as well?

I guess this is a new kind of way of dealing with grief and feeling they’re connected to dearly missed loved ones. And who is to say that going to a piece of stone in the ground to find solace is superior to writing heartfelt messages on the person’s wall? Perhaps soon we will have to start planning for our digital afterlives as well as our spiritual ones?

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. this topic is quite interesting, in fact, one of my friends here in san diego is developing a company that deals with death and what the person wanted to do with their online community of friends. essentially, one might have a list of passwords and usernames for various networking sites and if she/he dies this company would be notified and remove their online presence and let everyone know they had in fact deceased.

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