Will your social media live on?

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.

Will your social media live on 1

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.

Will your social media live onIt 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.

 

 

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  1. Chris, unfortunately I have had to visit many of these fb pages. Death has often been treated as taboo to talk about or sacred, honoring our dead more in silence or a prayer, rather than a celebration of their life which has become more popular over recent years. Many of the pages I’ve visited of the deceased include memories, past photos, prayers, condolences sort of whatever moves the person writing it. Personally I think it is a wonderful way to allow people to express their emotions. I frequently still post about my mother and she’s been gone almost two years. Guess it’s more of the modern public dairy. ~D

  2. Hi Diane. Your point about death being a taboo subject is a very valid one. In fact I hesitated before I wrote the piece, but thought it is a reality of life, particularly in the cancer world.

    I try to write about subjects that are rarely covered elsewhere, so had to stay true to myself and write this piece. Thank you for sharing your experiences here. I can totally understand your views, and in fact I am warming to this method as the days go on.

    It is heart warming to hear about your own personal use, and I fully understand that. I guess we are finding new ways to share our emotions, with the expansion of social media. You summed it up nicely I feel with ‘modern public diary.’

    Some of my previous discussions from this post have revolved around the lifespan of our current social media platforms, but my research shows me that there are new ones opening, specifically for tributes to the deceased.

    Thanks so much Diane, for sharing your own views and experience. This is proving an interesting subject. My best to you, Chris

  3. Hi Chris.Firstly, congratulations on all of the success with this blog and its conversations.

    Facebook pages as memorials are a new idea for me, but it seems like a good one. There is so much life story on there,maybe this is the new way of honouring those who have passed while allowing grief to have a voice as well. Anyhow, food for thought here. ~Catherine

  4. Hi Catherine.

    Many thanks for the congrats, much appreciated. It has been in excess of two years in the making and I am honoured that both public and professionals have voted for it.

    As for you, this subject was new for me too. It seems they are growing in popularity. Whist doing some research into this subject I found several specialist platforms available, for that very purpose.

    It seems times are changing rapidly. I felt it was an interesting subject, and thanks for sharing your views. I have had many different opinions 🙂 Chris

  5. Hi Chris From helping people & relatives over the past few years with various issues including illnesses, cancer and people who have passed away I have had to help them address the topic of what to do with their digital footprint.
    It certainly needs some thought – e.g. do you want your facebook page or flickr account left up, do you want it taken down ? Do you want specific people to be able to access it when you’ve passed away. How will your friends and family feel about your continued web presence after you’ve gone? It’s not easy getting the websites to sort out accounts when the person has passed away and it an be stressful for the people left behind. It’ not just people of a certain age that are affected by social media. The oldest person I’ve had to help out with regarding his digital footprint was 86 and he’d been doing online banking and household bill management with no paper statements. No family member had a clue who he was insured with and they knew he had been a keen photographer but couldn’t find his photographs. It took a lot of time and effort to track everything down and sort out his affairs. It’s situations like this that prompted me to include a section on digital footprint in my life organising manual – to get people to think about what they want to happen and to make it easier for their family to deal with when they are very ill or have sadly passed away.

  6. Hi Louise
    I’m so pleased that Paul has introduced us. It looks like you do very necessary and interesting work. I have quite a large digital footprint myself, and it was only a chance conversation that brought this subject to my mind.

    My thoughts were about Facebook etc, but I can understand the follow on, with all the other things you have mentioned. This post has at least got people thinking, particularly in the light of young Stephen’s tragic death.

    It is obviously a more important subject than I had first thought, and I will take a look into your services further, and share where appropriate.

    Many thanks for sharing your expertise in this matter, it will be very helpful for the readers. Chris

  7. Thank you Chris. I was diagnosed with cancer myself last year, luckily at an early stage and an operation to remove it was successful. Sadly my father was diagnosed the same month and died 10 weeks later. My brother has just been diagnosed with a different cancer but sadly he didn’t go to see the doctor when he started having symptoms about 15 months ago and he has been informed he has secondaries in 4 other organs. So we are waiting to see what,if anything, can be done re quality/length of life. Please anyone reading this blog if you have any changes in your body/functions … see a doctor without delay.

  8. So sorry to hear this terrible story Louise. My thoughts go out to you all at what must be a very difficult time. As you are so aware, early diagnosis is key. I also avoided the doctor until it was almost too late. It is one of the reason’s I work to raise awareness of this issue amongst others.

    I hope that your comments may prompt people to get themselves checked out if they are in any doubt. My best to you Louise.