Living in the virtual world

Last Wednesday I had the unfortunate experience of my first....my first facebook friend who passed away.

Have you ever wondered what happens with online profiles, blogs, etc....if the person behind them is no longer with us? What if their online contacts only have online contact...how would they find out what causes the sudden silence? How long would online blogs remain online? What if they've planned some posts ahead of time that would still appear afterwards? How creepy would that be?
What about online personal profiles on social websites? Would someone take the effort to let the site know that the profile can/should be removed or "memorialised" as can happen on FB to prevent "friend suggestions" & birthday reminders etc...?

Last Wednesday I started to see shocked, silent, mourning & sad statuses everywhere among a small network of friends of young Christians mainly living around Ghent. It didn't take long before I learned that a well-known vicar from the Ghent diocese responsible for youth & inter religious relations had unexpectedly passed away. I had known him from many youth gatherings, discussion evenings, the world jubilee days and he had been my parish priest when I was living in Ghent. I have always really enjoyed his gentle nature, his sense of humour and his gift for lecturing.

And now I can tell you what happens with a FB profile when someone passes away: it becomes a place where friends get together virtually to say goodbye, leave a last message and find memories.

Comments

Lilacspecs said…
Sorry you lost a friend. You do make some good points though.
Poetikat said…
Very thought-provoking, Ellen. I have wondered about what would happen to my blogs if something happened to me. I think you need to tell someone close to you to make sure they advise your readers.
Sorry to hear about your priest-friend's passing.

Kat
Brian Miller said…
oh...sad...i have known a few bloggers that way as well...it is a place to say good bye...
Shan said…
An old friend passed away very unexpectedly last year. His wife will still leave messages to him on his facebook page. Little notes about her day or the kids or how much she misses him. I think it must be therapeutic to be able to do that. Sorry for you loss.

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