At 2:38 p.m. on September 9, 2013, Jeremy Fowler posted a picture of his family wearing bicycle helmets while standing in front of the split-rail fence of a horse corral in nowhere New Hampshire. The reflection of their washed out skin bespoke the 2.0 megapixels of Jeremy’s flip phone camera. It was a strange image to arrive on my Facebook newsfeed, a pixilated tribute to Jeremy’s father who died 48 hours earlier. It was Jeremy’s last photograph with all of family members present, a gesture of quixotic solemnity in a medium where the earnest so often do not belong.
He accompanied the picture with this status: “Yesterday my dad unexpectedly went to be with the Lord, we’re glad that he’s in a far better place than we are but we will miss him so much, plz pray for our family during this difficult time!” To date, the post has received 62 likes and 33 comments from some of his 459 friends. Most have said things like, “God be with y’all!!! We have and will continue to pray.”
Death, typically such a huge taboo, was now a subject fit for Facebook, with all its abbreviated spellings and exclamation marks.
Read more. [Image: 55laney69/Flickr]
NPR’s Scott Simon has been live-tweeting the death of his mother.
The question of how we deal with death now has become increasingly complex in an era when anything can be shared with anyone. We take to social media to announce our engagements, our babies, our new jobs. But should our thoughts on the dying remain a private affair? Is it fair to bring others into our own, deeply personal experiences with death through very public mediums? Are social media updates becoming another stage of the grieving process?