What Will You Tweet After You Die?
Some people “plan what the impact of their own deaths will be on social media,” as Katie Gach, a digital ethnographer at the University of Colorado, Boulder, studying how people manage, and do not manage, post-mortem data on social media. In some of its members, “legacies” are reserved for celebrities, so “regulars” like them don’t have to think of a note of separation. When people think about their social media heritage, he says, “they only know who should make the decisions after they die,” like telling their spouse with their Facebook password to delete some account. Moreover, many view social media as the wrong medium for the message, “as a communication tool at the moment, not as a meaningful record.”
What’s more, with decades of the internet being an everyday part of our lives, most of us still don’t know how or aren’t very comfortable grieving online. In a 2017 study, Gach and fellow digital death researchers Casey Fiesler and Jed Brubaker have found that “grief policing” is more common on the internet, where users import social norms of mourning into social media. This leads to bitter misunderstandings about what is appropriate, and often embarrasses individuals for not expressing enough grief, for seeking attention through public grief, or for taking advantage of death for personal gain. .
In all of these factors — along with the well-established fear of death that prevents any planning for our purposes — most online death announcements today are felt or literally copy-and-paste ones. version of the read local newspaper death. Because of this formula — date of death, age, who survived the deceased, where to send the money instead of flowers — all the data, lifeless, these messages will always disappear from our endless newsfeeds. Man A moved jobs, B got divorced, C died, Pete Davidson got Salt Bae tattooed on his leg.
Why should we pay attention to what our death looks like on Twitter when we are dead? While Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse announcement earlier this fall was met with much ridicule, eyerolls, and fear, it should remind us how close society is to a world where digital space is a part. in our corporeal (and not just experienced), where institutions like birth, love, and death have the same gravity as they do in the physical world. To prepare for it Ready, Player Usa existence, we need to start thinking now about ways to curate this world using tools to die in a meaningful way.
Fortunately, there are already communities helping to make the art and practice of dying beautiful in cyberspace. Megan Devine, a psychotherapist, does Sanctuary of Grief, an online community that focuses on transforming grief as an illness or problem to be solved into one built on compassion and understanding. Another community, the Order of the Good Death, even used the slogan “Welcome to the Future of Death,” as a portal to critical questions about death, such as how to make it more eco-friendly and fair. The “positive to death”The movement, which aims to remove the ban on speaking openly about our own deaths, also has room to thrive online, where the bodyless forum allows people to quickly act beyond the ban. Even the social media platforms themselves are starting to wake up to death. After years of complaints, Facebook, with a lot of control on how to mourn, in 2019 began to allow a legacy contact to have more control over the activities of the deceased.