Mar 182013
Photo by Katherine (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Photo by Katherine (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Hmmm, I don’t really know him; we just went to the same high school and later linked up on Facebook. Nevertheless, I second guess: What the hell? Don’t be stingy with greetings, Twanna. Might brighten his day.

  • 9:48am. Twanna writes on Jack Shea‘s timeline …

I don’t realize I’m wishing a dead man H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y-!-! until a friend privately clues me in that he passed away two years ago. It appears he died on his birthday. Seeing my exclamation point-laden greeting among heartfelt condolences from his family makes me feel like I’ve brought ¡¡¡Margaritas!!! to a vigil. [Tiptoes backwards and thinks: "Oh, shit! I feel really awful that I didn't know. Sorry, everybody.] Memorializing a loved one’s Facebook account is the digital equivalent of cremating, burying, and/or printing obituaries. In the absence of such rituals recognizing the death, how will others know they’re gone? Mashable’s How 1 Billion People Are Coping With Death and Facebook discusses Facebook dead people:

If a dead user’s timeline sits un-memorialized, that profile can appear in Facebook Suggestions, such as the “People You May Know” sidebar on the homepage. Their birthdays reappear year after year in the news feed sidebar, prompting well-wishes from individuals unaware of the death. Read more.

Those who’ve experienced a loved one’s passing know the relationship and its influence on our lives often continue long after they’re gone. Regarding digital rights and responsibilities of — and for — the dearly departed, managing online accounts is a new addition to the list that includes closing credit cards and cleaning out their home. For those who keep accounts active, perhaps Facebook is a place to view photos, write “we miss you” messages, and otherwise cherish the marks they’ve left on their lives. I don’t have anything witty, funny, or further to add about my high school classmate, and I won’t pretend I knew him better than I did. What remains is, over the weekend, I wished a dead man “Happy Birthday!!” on the second anniversary of his death. It was awkward.

  5 Responses to “I Wished A Dead Man “Happy Birthday” on Facebook”

  1. Facebook could very easily create a “passed away” status in that they can indicate that someone is no longer with us. This would change the profile settings so that it wouldn’t’ announce their birthday but announce their “death day”. I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating that on Facebook. Facebook could also create a setting (for the users that are still with us and active on Facebook) that could allow us to indicate whether or not we would like to receive such updates in our newsfeeds. Always allowing for a more accurate celebratory comment.

  2. Facebook sucks. It’s that simple. If I counted the ways Facebook sucks this comment would go on forever, I was on Facebook once. I wonder how many people think I still am? Once you have an account there it’s like the lyrics of the song “Hotel California” by The Eagles: “You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.” – they try to claim ownership of everything that their software programs touch – and that’s pretty much everything – and they discriminate, data-mine, censor (you must be aware of their nipplephobia). I’m sure they’ll be selling my info centuries after I’m dead unless, somehow, what happened to Geocities happens to Faceplant, er, Facebook. Why are you even on there anyway?

  3. It’s how I keep up and in touch with people who don’t live near me. Without speaking on the phone everyday, I can get a general sense of what’s going on in their lives.

  4. Facebook can be good or bad depending on the way you use it. Agree with you Twanna, that it helps keep in touch with people that I otherwise would lose contact with.

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