Eternal life: post-modern style

Jesse Archer comments on life after death of a "friend" on Facebook in The Advocate:


Sometimes Facebook heaven sends me a surprise update. Do you think Arron wears underwear? Another friend (who died of an aneurysm) is continually tagged by a former flame in travel photos like the globetrotting ghost of a garden gnome. Still another friend is dead from a GHB overdose but keeps popping up — he’s a mutual fan of Richard Dawkins! Recently, a Farmville pig wandered onto his property.

Nobody is resting in peace anymore. The suicide, the aneurysm, the overdose. Distilled into how they died because their pages are a persistent reminder they are dead, not of how they made me feel alive. I’d like to believe a legacy is in memories made, not the unintended irony of a last status update. Not in a ghastly, never-ending funeral procession like Alzheimer’s or Amy Winehouse.

I love to remember my friends, but not this new element of surprise. Type a message and his name appears as a suggested recipient....

Facebook is the modern-day mausoleum, only now it is mobile. The mausoleum can travel to you, posing a digital age moral dilemma: Do you delete the dead ones? Faces, photos, their writing is on the wall. How can you click “unfriend”?

Have you had this experience? Do you "unfriend" friends who have died? What is the caring thing to do. Do "New occasions teach new duties, [does] time makes ancient good uncouth?" (from the Hymn Once to Every Man and Nation)

Comments (2)

Facebook does have a process to turn the profile of a deceased person into a sort of memorial wall. Unfortunately, few people know about it or how to have it done. I now have a few deceased FB friends - and I can't bring myself to unnfriend them.

I think clicking the "x" to acknowledge someone is dead is an appropriate thing to do. Not a casual act, but a decision as powerful as casting a handful of earth onto the casket. What the author describes here is a kind of "ghost" existence, and I think that clicking the "x" is better closure and admission that a friend is dead, whatever memories real or virtual remain.

When "Brother Randy" died, I was able to make use of his Wall to notify many of his friends. It served that purpose, but after his burial, in which I did indeed cast a spadefull of earth on his remains, I ceremoniously committed him to God and removed him from my Facebook list.

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