Virtual Tombstone

The news that inspired this article are very sad. A friend of mine was hospitalized before Christmas and kept his friends on Facebook uptodate with posts and pictures about his whereabouts and what is happening to him in the hospital. He died last week but gave his Facebook account to a friend of his. In that way, his Facebook wall is a virtual place to go for friends and family and write their thoughts, their wishes and whatever they would like him to know on the wall. Also the news about much too early death spread fast over Facebook. Facebook as Tombstone?

It is not the first time that I have seen Facebook accounts of people who have passed away. Essentially people do nothing else than they would do on the graveyard, kneeling before the tombstone of a beloved one. The difference is, that I can never understand what these people mumble, most of the time they pray silently. On Facebook, nothing is silent, everything is public. Maybe, the experience is so different because for the first time you can see what the people have to say to their friends, beloved and family who have passed away.

There is another difference. When you go the the graveyard you know what to find their. It is the area of the dead. If you log in to Facebook you expect to see your friends posting party-pics, using silly fortune-cookie applications and sending you private messages about the upcoming events in their political party. You do not expect some friend or acquaintance to be online there or to access their wall and reality hits you hard with the realization that this person is dead. It is only the Facebook profile which is left in the virtual world you are facing.

What is the outcome? I cannot tell you. I am not sure if that is a good thing because it gives you the ability to grief and at the same time not feeling alone. Maybe it is not good because you will never be able to overcome what happened because there is a permanent reminder. Personally, I think it is a good thing to have a place which combines life and death. A place where you grief without feeling alone and at the same time a place you can access wherever you are.

Rest in peace Q, thank you for everything – I will honor the Nikees.

Leave a Reply