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She's Still Dying on Facebook
July 7, 2014 7:03 AM   Subscribe

It’s been five years since my best friend from high school died, but her death happens over and over online.
posted by motorcycles are jets (41 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well written and powerful. Thanks for posting this.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:25 AM on July 7 [4 favorites]


I've lost a few people in my life. Most people in their 40's are the same. There's a brief smattering of deaths through the decades. Accidental twenties, followed by alcoholic thirties followed by a growing number of heart attacks and cancers and grown-up diseases.

The deaths from my youth and my thirties are lost now. I suspect that that this is for the better. We all remember Fraggle before the overdose. Rob before the bike accident. Melvyn before the booze took him.

But now - Dead people are still in my timelines, and I don't know if I should unfriend them or leave them or what. Twitter accounts from dead people that get hacked are the worst. It's not too bad to see something pushed back onto your timeline because somebody has Favorited something. It's awful to see a dead person retweeting arabic messages and image spam.

I think, and I'm a hypocrite here because I can't take my own advice, that it's OK to unfriend the bereaved. It's right to block the people we used to love who have left us.

I'm reminded obliquely by this article of the messages that continue to circulate on social media years after they were useful. Parents put out pictures of their dying children and these pictures go viral and they stay viral for years. I'm sure that more than one person will be haunted in this way. That six years after a death they'll be shown a picture of their dead child, as she was, and they'll be asked to "Like This to send a wish"
posted by zoo at 7:36 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]


This was an exceptional piece of reading. This is actually something I hope we get better in terms of our general social consciousness, at helping peer groups help members who are struggling-- both in terms of improving our services to those coping with addiction and mental illness through developing deeper understanding of the biological and psychosocial factors that feed these problems, and also through giving guidance and feed back to people who don't know how to support friends who are falling apart.

People in the support network for such people are often grappling with big emotions (or trying to hide from such emotions) and giving THEM more support on a professional level and in terms of offering them peer to peer support with what they're coping with and how to support a struggling friend-- might help everyone be their best self in these situations.

I think for many people who shut down when they have a friend in need, people cut them off and then look back and wonder "what if". What if more had been done? What if someone had cared just a little more?

And research into physical and emotional health actually does find that things going on in peer and family groups may have a large impact on physical and emotional well being so it's likely these things DO matter, and maybe we should nudge each other sooner to see that sometimes dropping people in need and telling ourselves "it's for their own good" is actually not in their own good. It's in OUR own good, which is understandable, but hitting rock bottom for some people, is not something they ever come out of and it's not really a helpful thing to send them into.

However, like training people in CPR and other crisis situations-- I think training people in how to support struggling friends while ALSO keeping themselves safe is something people need more education in because BOTH are worthy goals.

I only have a few people who have passed on my facebook feed. One friend had a birthday notification come up a few days ago. It's surreal. So far it hasn't felt over bearing to have such people still on my social media. I think I like it that way. The same as visiting a grave you may see flowers left, you might visit a friend who'se passed social media page and see message left from others who love them and still think of them here or there. And you share with those living people, that hole where that person once was.
posted by xarnop at 7:44 AM on July 7 [3 favorites]


__FaceBook prediction #312__
By 2034, of the 28% of FB users reported to be deceased, 19% will provide "click farm" jobs for 90.3 million children in developing nations. The actual number of "active" deceased users will be unknown and any reliable approximation known only to FB's legal department and a closely guarded trade secret.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 7:46 AM on July 7 [3 favorites]


This is a good account of death in a world filled with social media. But beyond that, I wonder if it's a little navel-gazy?

She feigns incomprehension at her friends death from substance abuse while in the opening paragraphs she discusses how they did ecstasy together and regularly got blackout drunk.

To me, this is the kind of article that self-important New Yorkers write to recount how they've lead Real Lives Of Breathtaking Tragedy And Here Are Some Deep Thoughts About Society, when, in reality, if you visit a ghetto or an Indian reservation, you'll find plenty of people who have died before 30, and plenty of others who have a more acute sense of the injustice of it all than some Williamsburg graphic designer/columnist/Bon vivant.
posted by Avenger at 7:53 AM on July 7 [23 favorites]


I only have two deceased FB friends, neither of whom I see anything from anymore. One simply stopped showing up at all, after a year or two of Facebook periodically prodding me to reconnect with him.

I had assumed that their dark voodoo identified him as deceased and they'd just purged the account, but when I check now I see it's still there. Working backwards there's a few RIP type messages, then a message posted saying he'd passed away and to email his brother for more info. Before that is the last update he posted, five days before when the subsequent message says he died. It says, simply, "has a fever of 101.5 and probably has the flu. :*("

The other person posts a little less than before he died, but not much. His wife continues to update the page with postings and things, mostly about their son who was around three when his father finally lost his battle with cancer. I don't know that she's still posting as him, actually, since it just got too freaky for me a year or so ago and I just blocked/muted "him." I suppose she gets some emotional value from it and I don't begrudge her that, but for me it was a net negative.
posted by phearlez at 7:58 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]


This reminds me an awful lot of the way that I felt when a highschool friend died of a heroin overdose at age 23 or 24. I still think about him, and visit his facebook page sometimes. Though we were less close than she was with her friend, there were no fewer warning signs nor hushed gossips. And like her, I got a text about his death from a mutual friend, in the middle of my Busy Life. Thanks for posting this.

.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:12 AM on July 7


I only have a few people who have passed on my facebook feed. One friend had a birthday notification come up a few days ago. It's surreal.

This article made me think of an friend who died a little over two years ago and check out his Facebook page. There are still some occasional memorials posted, but it turns out last week was his birthday (I guess I missed the notification) and I saw a small flurry of notes from mutual acquaintances that just said "Happy birthday!!"

On the one hand I got kind of angry at how reflexive and insincere--callous, really--those messages are, but on the other I guess it's not my place to judge.
posted by psoas at 8:17 AM on July 7


The Facebook aspect of it comes off as a bit slatepitchy; I'm not sure that there's anything about survivor guilt that's necessarily exacerbated by social media. That having been said, it's a lovely piece.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:20 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]


God help me if I become someone else's "life lesson."
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 8:23 AM on July 7 [8 favorites]


She feigns incomprehension at her friends death from substance abuse while in the opening paragraphs she discusses how they did ecstasy together and regularly got blackout drunk.

She also says that she moved on from this and assumed her friend would as well. I think the article acknowledges that she should have or could have or wishes she had done more.
posted by maryr at 8:30 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]


...after a year or two of Facebook periodically prodding me to reconnect with him

I had a friend who died a few years ago; for some time Facebook kept suggesting him as a friend. It kind of creeped me out. I just checked and his page is still up there; he joined just a few months before he died so not much to see. It will be interesting to see how long people's digital shadow remains after they are gone as we become more and more connected online.
posted by TedW at 8:34 AM on July 7


I haven't had much interaction with dead people on FB, but I'm sure it's coming.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, alerted me a few months ago that my friend M.V. was enjoying an anniversary at company XYZ, which actually alerted me to something else: LinkedIn is way behind.

I know this first because M.V. had left the company in question years ago, and second that he subsequently died over a year ago. But his profile is still there.

I say that, about Facebook, but one person I knew only online -- on The Well -- suddenly died a bit over a year ago. I didn't interact much with him there, but it was weird to see his profile disappear.
posted by uberchet at 8:35 AM on July 7


This hit a little close to home for me, for several reasons. I think it was an exceptional piece of writing, mainly because she put into words some of the things that I never have been able to. I think being able to make this connection, even fleetingly, is one of the nicest things about the internet.
posted by the_royal_we at 9:00 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]


Facebook has a "memorialize" feature that almost anyone can use. If you send an obituary and some other info about the person to FB, they'll set the account so that no one can friend them anymore (or suggest them as a friend), or receive birthday notices, but the existing posts remain. (Can't remember if you can still write on their wall.) I did this for my recently deceased aunt; I didn't want to delete the account, but not receiving the birthday notices is nice.

This might have helped her angst a little, though yeah, it did seem a little navel-gazey to me.
posted by Melismata at 9:01 AM on July 7 [3 favorites]


I'm not an overly romantic person. This is mostly a reaction to the overly dramatic people I spent time around in the art world who seemed to think (rightly or wrongly) that an artist sells their outlandish personality as much as their work. I'm the sort of person who smirks at pat Hallmark aphorisms. I throw away cards after I read them. I'm the family member who leaves the visitation to cook a big pot of stew, partially because I know that they'll all be grouchy if they don't eat and partially because I will pull a muscle from rolling my eyes at all the "helpful remarks" foisted on me by well-meaning types. I just don't do nostalgia or rose-colored shades or pollyanna or whatever-you-want-to-call-it well. I am, I suppose, a bit of a cold fish.

But I, dear reader, have a secret. A secret I will share with you here only under the close veil of anonymity granted me by the internet. I have one old friend, one who is probably mostly responsible for my marrying my wife, and deciding to tear down my old life and start again in my 30s who I still message every year on his birthday. A private message on facebook that no one will ever read because for the past five years he's been dead.

I don't know why. As John Darnielle put it, I doubt those whose passed on have any contact or concern with us from the corruptible world. But still I do it. Every year. After all, if you were offered the opportunity to touch the afterworld for the mere click of a button, wouldn't you at least try it?
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:10 AM on July 7 [28 favorites]


I want the option to have an AI take over for me playing Farmville when I go, so my friends can be spammed from beyond the grave.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:14 AM on July 7 [7 favorites]


It's more interesting as a piece about survivor's guilt than about Facebook.

Would it really have felt much different if, instead of looking at unanswered messages on Facebook, she instead was looking at unanswered letters in a shoebox? No, I don't really think it would.

The point is being confronted with the realization that maybe you weren't quite as good a friend as you like to remember yourself being; that maybe, for completely understandable and probably even good reasons, you looked after yourself first and got the hell away from someone who was clearly entering the final countdown of self-destruct mode.

We have a tendency to not only burnish the memory of the deceased, but also of our relationships with them. It is jarring to run smack into the messy actuality of someone, however evidenced, when we have become comfortable with the polished version exhibited in obituaries and memorial services.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:14 AM on July 7 [7 favorites]


I have a small investment in Facebook at the moment, however I'm skeptical that we will still be using it in 2034. Remember that in 1999 Geocities was one of the top websites in the world. AIM was the default social / chat network. Go back to 1994 and we were using .plan files and finger on the Internet. Usenet, Gopher, FTP and Archie were key bits of internet infrastructure.
posted by humanfont at 9:37 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]


I wonder about the deceased on FB, whose close friends or relatives have permissions to the FB page, and haven't memorialized or frozen it. Do future wall postings prove to be of comfort to them, or not? What about the messages sent? I've never interacted with a dead person's FB or LJ aside from posting the 'OMG I'll Miss You!' on their wall. Then, I leave them alone. I believe that the dead deserve rest, even in cyperspace.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:01 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]


To me, this is the kind of article that self-important New Yorkers write to recount how they've lead Real Lives Of Breathtaking Tragedy And Here Are Some Deep Thoughts About Society, when, in reality, if you visit a ghetto or an Indian reservation, you'll find plenty of people who have died before 30, and plenty of others who have a more acute sense of the injustice of it all than some Williamsburg graphic designer/columnist/Bon vivant.

In your opinion, how much poorer would she have to be to be entitled to have feelings?

The piece is a little belly-buttonny, I agree. But I think it's a lot to do with the author being in her mid-20s and not knowing anyone else who'd died like this. I can excuse to an extent the narcissism of youth. Particularly because she at least partially confronts it in the article; the spark of the piece is the change to facebook forcing her to confront the fact that the story she'd been telling herself --- she'd reached out and been rebuffed, there was nothing she could have done --- was a false one, that in fact the dead girl had been the last to try and contact her, had often been the one that initiated their exchanges, and she had been callous and indifferent.


Would it really have felt much different if, instead of looking at unanswered messages on Facebook, she instead was looking at unanswered letters in a shoebox? No, I don't really think it would.

Yeah, but you never do, do you? Maybe what, once a decade, moving house and cleaning out the guest bedroom closet? That, I think, is a difference; it's facebook rejiggering itself that forces all this stuff up, and with it there's a quality of a life preserved in amber that you'd never get before it, before the internet started remembering Everything. If she wanted she could go back and read each day through, for years and years leading up to the girl's death. All the little complaints, the candid snaps, the minor dramas. Human memory is selective; it shapes. The internet, because there's so, so much, is transporting in a different way. A way that might, I think, allow you to see new facets. After all, we remember what we have decided was important at the time. But sometimes we decide wrong, don't see the fatal pattern. Or even just the alternate explanation, the signs that someone we'd classified as fated in some way could have taken another path.
posted by Diablevert at 10:14 AM on July 7 [7 favorites]


I'm annoyed by what I perceive (maybe wrongly) as a modern trend, of authors inserting irrelevant little personal details (almost always brags) into stories where they add nothing, where they are distractions at best.

I don't care what brand of phone the author has, but after reading a piece about her complicated relationship with the tragic death of a close friend, I know. For some reason.

I also know that despite her wayward drug-abusing youth, she was apparently hot shit at college, because she's giving a commencement address.

Great. So she's richer than me, she's smarter than me, and she's already been touched by a real small-town tragedy, so she's deep and soulful and all that crap. Just in case that didn't come through in the rest of the writing.

There's a real story to be told here about how all this personal modern media interacts with death and dying, and she's mostly done a pretty good job of it, but these details distract from all that.
posted by Western Infidels at 10:31 AM on July 7 [5 favorites]


Facebook is relevant to the topic of this article, but not how the author seems to think it is.

In the days Before Facebook, going to college was Year Zero. From the moment you arrive in the Fall, your whole life's concerns are contained in those few square miles of campus, the issues you cared about in Senior year of high school (S.A.T.s, comparing schools) are never discussed again, and your high school friends are replaced by your real friends. After your first year in the Freshman dorms you go home for a summer and try to have fun with those people you used to know, but that's the last time -- you'll only find out how their lives went at the 10-year reunion.

This irrevocable change happens even for people who never left their hometowns after graduation; whatever they might have thought they were doing by choosing to stay, a new life is starting anyway. The same teenage activities, be they drinking or D&D, take on a new meaning when they're no longer a distraction from your life but have become it.

What struck me about this article is not that she and Lea's other high-school friends were blindsided by her death, but that there was any expectation they should be still connected at all. Maybe this is just me, but I completely -- and voluntarily -- expected to lose touch with high school friends, even though a few of them were enrolled at the same university.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:32 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]


>Every year. After all, if you were offered the opportunity to touch the afterworld for the mere click of a button, wouldn't you at least try it?

Interesting, article. My late father was never interested into tech or cellphones when he was alive. I have many photos/videos of my childhood but he's never in them. The odd thing is that when we registered for for cell phone numbers, before he had been ill so they all followed a pattern like 1234 then 1235 so forth.

One day I picked up my mother's cellphone and the caller ID read: Dad. For 5 seconds I believed that this was indeed my father and the last 7+ years had never happened. He was coming back home and I could speak to him. I could apologize for everything I had done or failed to achieve in life. Of course, this was not my father but my grandparent's cell phone number. I still have the same phone number all these years and some days I wish I wish I had the option to call and it'd be answered.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 10:56 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]


I came across someone on OKcupid, marked them favorite in the hopes I'd have time to write at some point. A few weeks later, though other channels I learned that someone not many "degrees of separation" from me had died. Some neuron clicked and said that person was probably the same as that person from OKcupid. I went back to find the profile, and it was the same person. Still a nice profile. Still someone I'd like to know. I knew I never would. No indicating they were gone, it was indistinguishable from life.
So among other things, I wondered if anyone was going to notify OKcupid. Hopeful people would still be viewing the profile, replying, trying to get in touch.
I checked again about a month later, the profile was still there. So I notified OKcupid the user had passed on, and included a citation link.
Years later, the profile is still there. Most of the OKcupid sorting/matching options take user activity into account, so not all that many people will be shown it. I've come around to thinking there's a nice side to inadvertently leaving an OKcupid profile behind - it's you presenting your best face to the world with hope and optimism.

I imagine some people might be mortified at the idea of their epitaphs and monuments including their online dating profile. But really, you could probably do much worse. :)
posted by anonymisc at 11:18 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]


In the days Before Facebook, going to college was Year Zero. From the moment you arrive in the Fall, your whole life's concerns are contained in those few square miles of campus, the issues you cared about in Senior year of high school (S.A.T.s, comparing schools) are never discussed again, and your high school friends are replaced by your real friends. After your first year in the Freshman dorms you go home for a summer and try to have fun with those people you used to know, but that's the last time -- you'll only find out how their lives went at the 10-year reunion.

Welcome to YMMVille, population: more than you'd think. I may be unusual (in more ways than one), but I still stay in touch with my high school friends (mostly via Facebook), some thirty-odd years past graduation; on the other hand, even though I had more than a few friends in college, I've lost touch with almost all of them. I'm not even sure which ones are alive, because, with a few exceptions, I can't remember most of their last names.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:20 AM on July 7 [6 favorites]


Great. So she's richer than me, she's smarter than me, and she's already been touched by a real small-town tragedy, so she's deep and soulful and all that crap. 

Maybe it's not about you?
posted by trunk muffins at 11:22 AM on July 7 [7 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed at the hostility regularly shown to personal stories/essays. I'm the first one to sneer at the NYT sort of "boohoo now they have to make do with only a half mil a year" story, but a first person piece about how the author experienced death in the digital age is somehow objectionable now?
posted by phearlez at 11:42 AM on July 7 [10 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed at the hostility regularly shown to personal stories/essays.

And not to overread too heavily, but you really do start noticing at some point how disproportionately (though certainly not exclusively) women's stories get targeted by this kind of resentment. When you see this kind of response to what's really a pretty unostentatious, reflective essay — the suggestion that paying any attention or reflection at all to one's own lived experience is narcissistic preening, or even writing about your grief is a conspicuous display of status — a lot of the time the (or an) underlying message seems to be that women's lives, women's emotions, aren't worth hearing about. Like yes, it's the Atlantic, and hence it's a bourgeois lifestyle performance to a certain extent, but really, maybe that's not the only thing driving this reaction.
posted by RogerB at 11:59 AM on July 7 [9 favorites]


How about let's not insinuate that people who disliked something you liked are bigots, consciously or unconsciously, okay?
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:13 PM on July 7 [6 favorites]


an) underlying message seems to be that women's lives, women's emotions, aren't worth hearing about.

I've been in the situation where I really really want nothing more than to hear about someone's life/emotions, but they're making it so hard to piece together because they keep meandering into all sorts of detail about other things, vaguely related, and it's almost a detective story to to figure out where on the continuum all the details are between what matters and which is just stream of consciousness and what is just being said out of habit, etc.
Being driven up the wall by how someone communicates doesn't mean you're not interested in understanding them. (But I guess it can make you less interested.)

If we have to gender it, then I think the message is that people prefer hearing stories communicated the way they're used to hearing them, with the story keeping focus on the aspects that they understand as relevant, but men and women are often socialized to communicate differently or put more and less attention on various different aspects.
How people tell a personal story depends in part on who their audience is. And in situations like this (not taking the distant approach combined with no control over audience), that will naturally work best for less than all of the audience.
posted by anonymisc at 12:25 PM on July 7


This is a good account of death in a world filled with social media. But beyond that, I wonder if it's a little navel-gazy?

She feigns incomprehension at her friends death from substance abuse while in the opening paragraphs she discusses how they did ecstasy together and regularly got blackout drunk.


It may be navel-gazy - but the author, Julie Buntin, admits as much: "I know my obsession with Lea is partly selfish."

This isn't a story about Lea. It's a story about how people increasingly use social media to tell stories about who they are, and how they relate to others. It's about the author obsessively revisiting her dead friend's page to try and form a narrative that will help her make sense of their relationship. It's about memories Julie has of Lea that aren't documented online, and about the way social media simultaneously depersonalizes someone and puts them under a magnifying glass. It's about how ubiquitous electronic communication left evidence that Julie wasn't as good a friend as she thought she had been.

Saying Julie Buntin "feigns incomprehension" is weird. There's a reason why she mentions their shared drug use in the first sentence, and it's not because she doesn't understand why Lea died. You can understand that your best friend died of an overdose as a result of a lifestyle you created together while you were young, and still grapple with the fact that you were able to go on and live a comfortable life style and your friend wasn't.

Julie writes about how she, and other members of her graduating class, would regularly gossip breathlessly about Lea's decline only to meet up with her and share her drugs while on school breaks. She worries that she pushed Lea into her downward spiral by being such a willing and admiring follower. Lea reached out to her, and Julie realizes that she responded with "pretentious, dashed-off notes about life in New York, glib acknowledgments of her stint in rehab."

I don't think the author's blinding herself to harsh truths.

I think this was a really honest, interesting, and well-written piece. Glad it was posted here.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:32 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]


irrelevant little personal details (almost always brags) into stories where they add nothing

Except that this piece is partly, or even mainly, about the guilt the author feels at having failed her friend, partly as a consequence of getting the live that they both desired. It does seem to me more like you missed the point of these details than that the point wasn't there.
posted by howfar at 1:02 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


This irrevocable change happens even for people who never left their hometowns after graduation; whatever they might have thought they were doing by choosing to stay, a new life is starting anyway. The same teenage activities, be they drinking or D&D, take on a new meaning when they're no longer a distraction from your life but have become it.

What struck me about this article is [...] that there was any expectation they should be still connected at all. Maybe this is just me, but I completely -- and voluntarily -- expected to lose touch with high school friends, even though a few of them were enrolled at the same university.


I'm confused by this point. Sure, a lot of people drop out of touch with their high school friends when they enter college. The author says she grew apart from Lea as she embraced her posh NYC lifestyle. After graduation, college friends often grow apart. And so on. It's natural to lose touch with people, for some friendships to grow and others to fade.

But there's no such thing as starting a new life. Your life is your life. You're still connected to the choices you made in your past. The years of your life after high school graduation are no more-or-less real than the years that came before.

You do a lot of drugs and drink a lot with your childhood best friend - "together we did things we'd never do alone" - then a few years later she dies of liver failure... and you sit at your 10-year reunion and say: "Ooooh yeah, we were friends back in high school. Anyway, I went on to Barnard, not sure why she didn't get it together. Such a shame she burned out" ?

That's blindness. Whether or not you have ongoing communication and relationships with people that were important to you in your past, you still have a connection.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:08 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


I feel like a total schmuck posting a link to the Onion in pretty much any circumstance (hi Sean! Love you!), but my how it's relevant: Dead Facebook Friend From High School Still Has Cartman Profile Picture
posted by item at 1:34 PM on July 7


I had a friend die a couple of years ago from cancer in her early twenties. I actively avoid facebook around november and february - her birthday and the month she died. It gets really emotional for me. I feel guilt - not because we shared in vices but because we'd lost contact over the past 2 years and I was only vaguely aware she was sick, and never knew she was terminal. I never got to say goodbye even though we lived 20 minutes away. It's inconceivable to me to remove her but at the same time it hurts because I wish I hadn't lost who I was, so at least I would have known more. I just lost every connection to the outside world and I've never really found my way back.

The guilt can eat you alive, and facebook is a part of that.
posted by Aranquis at 5:12 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


I read this essay as a warning - don't rely on Facebook if you are in trouble and need to reach out to your friends; do it directly instead. And conversely, don't rely on Facebook to keep in touch with people who need you, do it directly instead. Ephemeral social media can't take the place of tangible people in your life, no matter how hard it tries.

This was an interesting (sad) read, thanks for the post.
posted by goo at 6:14 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


I have a couple close friends who passed away a few years ago (within a few months of each other, actually). I still post on their Facebook walls from time to time - generally on their birthdays and occasionally if I see/hear/read something that reminds me of one of them. Both of these friends are buried out of state - I don't know where. I can't visit. I suppose this is kind of the equivalent of a visit to their graves, for me. Virtually laying a stone, in a way.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:55 PM on July 7


When a user dies, their connections time out,
but their screen sessions linger.

The server's uptime grows
because you can't bring yourself to reboot

and wipe out
their last earthly presence

the ghost in zshell.


(xkcd)
posted by d. z. wang at 8:20 PM on July 7


My Dad was hardly active at all on Facebook before he died - something I suppose he was waiting until the retirement that never came to get into more fully, as he was very social and inquisitive with friends all over the world.

I wish to fuck he had been more active. To have a record of interactions with him, seeing his text at photos of my first daughter (he never got to see my second), a page of the sassy banter we use to exchange, albums and albums full of tagged photos of him, us together, his opinions and thoughts, it would be so so valuable to me now.

His profile is almost barren, all I have are my memories, and they feel woefully inadequate, malnourished, diaphanous. They feel like alcohol evaporating and I'm trying to catch it with my arms - it's not even the right tool for the job, and there's so, so much slipping away into the breeze every second. I'm left trying to prop it up but I don't even know how much is real and how much is a character in my head.
posted by smoke at 4:01 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


I thought this article was just straight-out fantastic. And I love this comment thread. I am not usually a font of positivity - but OPs and threads like this always restore my faith in the Blue as a valuable source of time-wastage instead of being asleep or productive or some such thing.
posted by Vcholerae at 10:08 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


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