Well, this week has been incredibly busy again, with people still finding out about my recent award. I have done a couple of interviews and word seems to be spreading fast. We have had a great deal of interest in the site, which is brilliant because it means that we can help more people affected by cancer. I have had several requests from different charities asking if I can do things, some I will have time for, but others unfortunately not.
This is a key time now in the development of my work. With massive thanks to my sponsor, we are dramatically expanding our reach, which presents a different problem, which is an increase of scale. The new interest is creating many exciting opportunities, but my main focus will always remain this blog, which takes time. So sadly I have to filter some work, to which will be most effective for me.
I need your help this week! My subject today came about by a very interesting conversation I had over dinner, with a lady who also works in the charity sector. We were discussing the use of social media, but particularly Facebook, and she mentioned that she had just posted something on her friends page, who unfortunately passed away last year. This then prompted a wonderful and frank discussion, about the use of social media after a death.
I like to think that I am up with what is happening in this area, but it seems I am not as advanced as I thought. Maybe it is because I am a bit older than the average user, but I had assumed that a personal page, blog, or Twitter etc would lay dormant or even be deleted, if their owner died. It seems that this is very much not the case, from my conversation.
Once I started thinking about it, I could understand many of the points raised. This just goes to show, the vast untapped uses of the Internet, and how we are discovering new ways of using it. As I see it, there are not really any rules, and it allows us all to be completely individual in how we use it. I am still coming to grips with the benefits it is giving me with my work, and finding new ones daily. But I had never really thought about what happens to it when I die.
This sounds a bit sad as I am writing it but you will understand what I mean! Most of us have many ‘virtual friends,’ who have become part of our lives, for one reason or another. We keep in touch via the Internet in various ways, and we all enjoy sharing news like this. When we started going ‘public’ with our lives, I guess we all had our own boundaries as to what we felt comfortable to share. In my own case, as the years have progressed, my boundaries have become less, and I’m now comfortable sharing many aspects of my life. However death, has been for me a very private thing. Something I wouldn’t be talking about publicly, when involving close friends or family.
But very frequently I am noticing, people sharing that sort of news, comfortably, quickly and publicly. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, it is not something that everyone will do, but there is now a choice, how we share, and with who. Having now looked around it seems like the pages that are kept open, are like ‘online memorials.’ A place where people come to share their thoughts, long after the person has passed away. Words, have become ‘virtual flowers,’ and people around the world can visit and leave their own.
It was interesting to talk about the emotional upset that would be caused if one of these pages was closed for any reason. I have had a few days to digest this very emotive conversation we had, and have had a chance to do some research. I can now see that social media is becoming an important way of celebrating a life, for family, close friends and ‘virtual friends.’ I suppose it can provide some very real memories for people, photo’s videos etc. Unlike a gravestone, it can be visited at anytime, by anyone,across the world.
I now understand the increasing importance of this particular issue, and I’m sure it will be more common in the future, as we learn yet more about what more the Internet can do for us. My feeling is that my own generation on the whole, may feel a little uncomfortable with the idea, but as things change rapidly, we will become more accustomed to it. Even now, I’m struggling to remember what life was like before!
It seems that this is as much about others as it is about the individual, which really is how I have come to view life. Of course, you have a choice about things, but that must be based on how you will make others feel as a consequence. I can see from the continued use of pages after death how important this is becoming.
As this is a subject I had never even thought about, I wanted to put it out there for discussion. Have you thought about it? What do you think? Is it important to you, or more to others? Do you know of examples that you would like to share? I would love to hear from you on this issue.