Social Media & Approaching Death

Paul BisceglioPaul Bisceglio, a freelance journalist who edits the literary digital magazine Land that I Live, recently wrote an article in The Atlantic suggesting that social media is changing how people approach death.  While the proliferation of social media and increasing use of such to speak about personal experiences with end of life is easily documented, how this shift will impact how people view death and dying is not yet known.

So What?

As people of faith, we have always viewed death differently.  Social media may help people of all ages and in all stages of life better grasp the frailty of our existence as well as the diverse realities present at the end of life.   It certainly has the power to introduce these conversations to people who otherwise may avoid them.

  • Have you personally used social media to share your own experiences with a loved one nearing and reaching the end of life? Would you do so? Why or why not?
  • Do you think an increased use of social media regarding all aspects of end of life will have a significant impact on the way many Americans view and approach death?  Explain.

Comments

  1. Susan says:
  2. When my mother passed away from cancer in 2009, I pretty much gave live updates during the final week of her life via FB to friends and family that were all far away, geographically. I found the social media platform very helpful in getting the word out to lots of people all at once, instead of having to go through several painful retellings of her passing as various friends and family called or emailed to ask what was going on. Also, the FB post about her going to be with God became a sort of virtual guest book for the funeral for those who couldn’t make the service in person but wanted to send kind words anyway. How will this affect the way Americans view end of life and death? I think it will remind people of things they already know – much as social media and the Internet does in all other aspects of life. The web merely amplifies things that already exist. Scams are still around on the web – only amplified via email. Bullying is around, only amplified via cyber-bullies, etc. etc. The same will be true of death. Certainly, we all still die. And we all have pain to share and grieving to do as a community – but the web amplifies this. More and more people know the instant someone dies (or is reported to have died in several celebrity death hoaxes) and more and more people can send their positive words almost instantaneously, perhaps at the very moment it is needed most. But I believe this will do one more thing. Your Facebook page (or Twitter account or what have you) continues to be online after you die. Your legacy is clearly there for all to see and in some ways, via time-delayed messages and auto-updates, you can communicate with millions even after you’re physically dead. I believe that the Lord will use this to remind us that 1. we do leave a legacy, and now in a much more tangible way and 2. there is an afterlife. The next time you go to update that status, think about what kind of a life you are living and the record – both online and offline – that you will leave behind when you move on to “the cloud” after death.

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