Death and Social Media

It is so strange to receive news about death over Facebook. You read a status update which has a name, which is linked to a profile. You click on it, sift through pictures, see public status updates. Where was this person last tagged? What was the last activity they had? And as you process this information you have five or six tabs open in the same window. Your eye wander around to see if you have any new emails or any notifications. They glaze over the ads for grocery stores and home furnishings.

I counter this to the only memories I have of learning of death as a child. When you have family overseas, you learn to dread that phone call that comes in the middle of the night. I can imagine the feelings my parents had from the moment they heard the first vibrations of the phone ringing. The terror and dread that must have passed through their bodies. The questions that soon followed. Whose family was calling? Whose life was about to be forever changed? Already, the world was different and in seconds that information would be conveyed through the wire. Then, there is a voice, maybe filled with sobs, maybe filled with compassion, but there is someone there to witness and to share the pain.

The world changes and we along with it. Even though we may now learn about one of life’s most brutal truths through a cold, detached medium, it does not mean that we must have a cold, detached response. Initially, I found it so difficult to close my eyes and say a prayer for the person’s name I read on Facebook. There were so many things going on my screen and I was quickly becoming distracted. But I stopped myself, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and I prayed. I prayed for this woman, her young family and I prayed that as technology’s reach spreads over our lives, we adjust with it in a way that is compassionate and human. 


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