Mourning in the digital age, or why I hate Facebook

Grief is taking on new shapes, forms and rituals in today’s world. There’s Cemetery 2.o,

[The] device maintains a live satellite Internet connection. Visitors to the physical memorial can view related memorials on the device display, while visitors paying their respects at any of the online memorials will recognize that their browsing is associated directly with the actual burial site.

For the generation growing up now using the Web for this is no odder than my parent’s generation posting death notices in the newspapers.

Social networking Web sites, like Facebook, MySpace and Friendster … have become an outlet for young adults to express their grief when friends die. They write messages to their dead friends, and even tell them stories of recent events.

Less noted is the little difficulties of coming across digital detritus from family and friends who have died. My Aunt Cathleen died last month and yesterday I deleted her phone number from my cell phone. That phone number — which is the only one she’d ever had during my lifetime — is no longer in use and I would see it and her name every time I went looking for a phone number. I like to remember my aunt, but seeing it that many times a day was just too much right now. I wanted an option other than delete, though. It took a long minute before I was willing to hit the button that was laden with so much finality.

Which brings me to why I hate Facebook. Actually I don’t hate it as a service or anything like that. It’s just that in January my beloved cousin Deirdre wrote “Hi Con” on my “wall” at Facebook. Deirdre, Cathleen’s daughter, died in June. There’s no way I’m removing that posting. So I cringe whenever someone suggests doing something via Facebook. In time, that will change but for now I hate Facebook.

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