Facebook Digital Memorials for Deceased Friends

I found out today that a friend of mine and fellow grad from BU was found dead in his bed earlier this week.

Very tragic. My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends who are certainly hurting during this time.

In their grief, friends of his have started an interesting phenomenon...they post goodbye messages on his facebook wall. Facebook, of course, will retain wall posts forever, so in effect, these posts are perpetual digital memorials to a man whom Facebook will never be able to set as "deceased." His last profile picture will stay there forever, his last status update will stay there for a week then reset. And the posts and goodbye messages posted by his friends will continue on his wall as living digital memorials for our lost friend. Perhaps I am being crass in focusing on his friends actions than on my final well-wishes to him. But it is an interesting situation that Facebook puts us in.

So, here I am, looking at his Facebook page, and wanting to say goodbye.

Every time I go to write something on his wall, some message saying goodbye...the words that come are never good enough for eternity.

So I don't write anything at all.

I don't think I will.

I can just hope that my friend Alex knows the right words are on my heart.


gavin richardson May 8, 2008 at 12:33 AM  

wired did a comprehensive article on this phenomenon a few years ago. it is strange though when you know the person or even just stumble upon a person who has passed away but people continue to write to them. it is even weird when it is bloggers who are known. i remember a blogger dying of cancer chronicled his last year of fight giving final words and at the end his wife wrote the final posting.

United Method May 8, 2008 at 2:02 AM  

I hope this seemingly small connection with him will continue to bring you fond memories and that God will use it to remind you of a good friend. Very sorry for your loss

Sarah McQueen,  May 8, 2008 at 7:44 PM  

When I got the news the very first thing I did was to pull up facebook!

My reactions:
1. How surreal to see the status up there from Saturday...
2. I wonder if anyone (family?) is going to be able/will think of closing the account?

Strangely enough, earlier this week I was thinking about this...our online persona continues on after we have died. How to communicate this change of reality to the online world? Makes me think it might be a good idea to make a secret password list to add to my "if I die file you'll need this info. file..."

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