A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Social Media and the Insensitively Instant Obituary

An article in Discovery News discusses the difficulties that Facebook and Google+ are now presenting with dealing a deceased loved one's social media accounts and their postings after they die. Jesse Emspak writes,

Several states are trying to deal with that question now. Oklahoma was the first. That state's law allows friends and relatives -- and most importantly, the executor of an estate -- to get control of Facebook accounts (provided the deceased lived in the state). Nebraska is proposing a similar measure, and there is some preliminary work on it being done in Oregon. In New York there is a proposal to name a "digital executor" before you die.

Social media, for all of its benefits, has created interestingly new challenges. Another challenge related to the deceased that really concerns me is how quickly the news of someone's death can get posted on Facebook before close relatives can be contacted personally. One mom found out about her son's death on Facebook. I also know a man who received the news of the death of a very close cousin when some friends started offering him condolences on Facebook.

The problem of posting TMI on social media has been discussed at length in many and various venues, but one of the other problems is people posting tragic news too quickly without giving thought to who has yet to be informed properly. It is simply unfathomable to me that I might receive the news of a loved one's death via social media. In the past when a family member has died, I have contacted all my children and lovingly threatened them about posting the news on Facebook before sufficient time has gone by for the rest of the extended family can receive word in a proper way.

Yes, social media is a venue where friends and family members can lovingly pay tribute to the deceased, but it is not the place to break the bad news. We need to think twice and then a third time before posting such news too quickly.

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