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Social Media and Death

Social Media's role in the end of life experience and how to navigate it.

Photo of Shauna Curry

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In the middle of high school, I changed schools when an old classmate died at 17; I found out through Facebook – through an R.I.P- post.  At first I thought it was a prank - luckily I didn't see it on twitter as I would have asked if it was a joke, which I initially thought it was - until the outpouring of comments began and I called up a friend (still at the school) to confirm.

What this experience did was change what death did mean to me?  Social media had become a first point of contact when being informed of the death of an old classmate. Later it would become a remembrance site for her friends and family.

This role social media plays in dealing with death and loss is explored in ABC article. It examines the complexity of death in social media in particular Facebook.

It raised many questions for me around this grey area? Is social media (when related to death) a comfort or a menace?

On my old classmates memorialised Facebook page, a video was posted of her drinking (and the antics that followed) - that while I am sure was meant in good humour - her family was upset by. Personally, I think that the laws or social conduct around Facebooks memorialised accounts is still an issue - with rules or guideline need to be put in a pop-up notification or at the top of the account to prevent such events occurring (especially over simple misunderstandings) that can turn the memorialised account into a war zone.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

There must be boundaries or outlines to help users navigate death on social media.

If you participated in an End of Life Storytelling Event, tell us which Chapter or city you came from:

Sydney, Australia


Join the conversation:

Photo of Hongbo Guo

Hi Shauna, I think you have a very interesting perspective. Social media does have its advantages and disadvantages regarding the spread of information. In virtual world, people would tend to be suspicious about the authenticity of information because we don't know much about the information sources. Real-name registration system could be a solution to that, because it regulates people should take responsibility for what they post or state. Or is it possible to establish a evaluation system so that reputation could be valued? What do you think?

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