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Facebook afterlife

One of the first of my generation of university friends passed away a few months ago. It caused a shock wave of unreality in our circle as we came face to face with our mortality.

Our deceased friend’s Facebook profile lives on, popping up in my Facebook sidebar with prompts like “Reach out. Say hello.” And “Suggest friends for” every few days. 

At first it was sad, to see her picture and be reminded that she is no longer with us, released from the ravages of cancer by death.  Then it became a little disconcerting, like seeing a ghost popping up on my screen from time to time.  Eventually I clicked “ignore” and she stopped appearing, Banquo-like, when I viewed family vacation photos. 

sunset

When should the sun set on online profiles?

But the other day she appeared again in my newsfeed.  It was her birthday, and Facebook remembered.  And her daughter and friends sent her birthday messages for us all to read on her wall.

If we live forever in the hearts and memories of our loved ones, do we also live forever online?   

I wonder if it is healthy for us to continue to commune with these internet avatars?  Or is it better to kill them off, quickly, like pulling off a bandage, so that we can let their spirit go free? 

Is it fair to their memory to remember them this way – their unflattering Facebook photos, their ill-advised and mundane status updates, living on forever for their children to find years later during a Google search.

Seeker

 

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