In the old days, it used to be that when you died, your family posted a statement in the paper or there was an announcement made at Sunday services. But in today’s world, where social media has made basically every part of our lives available for public consumption, the boundaries of proper etiquette have yet to be determined.
[bctt tweet=”The last thing someone mourning needs to see are randoms thirsting for gossip.” username=”wearethetempest”]
My friend was sick, but she never let on just how sick. I thought she was going to make a full recovery, until I got call from a mutual friend to let me know otherwise. For the next few days I obsessively combed social media for any information that I might have missed, anything that could tell me what was going on with her. It was an exercise in futility, and I gleaned no new information.
Then news came that she had passed. Those who were told were asked to please not spread the word, at least not until the rest of her family could be notified.
Within an hour of her death people were racing to post ‘heartfelt’ statuses on Facebook about her. People who readily admitted they barely knew her. The bandwagon-ass mourners filled me with a rage I used to further suppress any feelings I might have. I would read post after post from people who obviously knew nothing about her, and yet for some reason felt they should comment publicly on her life.
[bctt tweet=”There needs to be a window of time for those grieving to be able to mourn in privacy.” username=”wearethetempest”]
This felt especially distasteful given the fact that she had never publicly spoken about her illness. She had a rather sizable social media following, so the fact that she chose to never share the fact that she was sick would seem indicative that she didn’t want people talking about it. So it feels that much more inappropriate that in the hours after her death people were so eager to post about it.
[bctt tweet=”The bandwagon-ass mourners filled me with rage.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Now it’s one thing to post prayer requests, and a completely different thing when people you barely know are posting commentary on your death for public consumption. Why do we feel compelled as a society to instantly comment on the passing of another human being? I can understand a loved one posting on the social media to disseminate information, but again that’s not the same as a random stranger you’re friends with on social media blowing up your loved ones timelines with ‘condolences.’
So when is it appropriate to start posting condolences on social media?
There needs to be a window of time for those grieving to be able to mourn in privacy, without having to worry about social media prompts for comments. The last thing someone mourning the loss of a love needs to see is a bunch of randoms thirsting for gossip asking ‘what happened? sad face’. I also feel that flooding someone in mourning’s feed with posts about their loved one who has very recently passed is not necessarily the most helpful. We all deserve the time and space to mourn our loved ones when they pass, and this includes social media. This is particularly true for acquaintances and distant relatives, who will feel the pain less keenly than those closest to the person who has passed, and therefore wouldn’t need as much time to process what happened.
When did social media make death available for public consumption?