For all the differences in the cultures around the world, there is one common thread that connects us: the desire to never forget a loved one who has passed away. The unfortunate reality is that as time passes, granular details of a deceased’s life slowly fade. As we grow older, we find our memories are not what they once were, and although we will never ever forget a lost loved one, many of the smaller details begin to escape our memory.
Before Facebook, to keep memories alive, someone had look at the old photos that they collected somewhere in a box or swap stories with a friend. Once in a while, you might even hear or tell a story or memory that had never been shared. However, in most cases, a loved one’s life is often recalled through common headlines, iconic representations of who they once were — the athlete, the giver, the comedian, the whatever. The stories reinforce the overarching attributes that defined someones life, but really never capture the spirit or emotion of the person who passed. The voice of the deceased died when they did.
For younger people, the challenge to remember a lost loved one is only further amplified. Imagine a child who lost a parent when they were six years old. At the end of the day, they will never really know that parent from first-hand experience. They are dependent on the shared stories of others and a limited number of old photos.
Enter Facebook. Although one of its least talked about attributes, Facebook allows for a loved one to have a voice, even after death. Facebook permanently captures all the granular details that would otherwise get lost in time. From the daily status updates to conversations between friends, Facebook enables the deceased’s voice to live on through the shared content.
Imagine a six year old losing a parent today. If the parent has been on Facebook for a few years, that six year old now has a first hand, daily account of that parent’s life. They can hear the parents voice through the multiple status updates that they posted. They can see what types of communications occurred between the parent and his/her friends and get a sense of the things that made them laugh or cry. Facebook content captures the life of a human being from his or her perspective and ensures that no memory will ever fade.
I would give my left lung to have had my Mom on Facebook before she passed 7+ years ago. I have a feeling she would have been addicted to the platform. She would have loved how connected she could be with family and friends. And I would love nothing more than to go back and witness her life again through her own voice.
As crazy as it sounds, I take some comfort in knowing that my kids will be able to go back through my profile after I pass. They can be reminded first hand of the things that I was passionate about and the things that sent me over the edge. They can laugh at the things that made me laugh. They can see that I was happy and loved my life. And more importantly, they can see that they were my life. My comfort is not rooted in anything narcissistic on my part, but because I honestly believe Facebook will ease their healing process and keep memories alive in a way that before Facebook was never possible. I believe Facebook will bring them happiness and peace sooner than they could have ever experienced before it existed.
For as much as Facebook is about sharing and experiencing life, I think its impact after death is a far greater contribution to the world. What do you think?
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