Deaths on social media

Quinta Goines

Because social media are a convenient way to share information with a mass of people, many people have found them efficient in announcing engagements, child births and graduations. For years, every time someone dies, the first thing people seem to do is run swiftly to their electronic devices and share it on Facebook. In my view, that is not OK.
A few months ago, a couple of friends and I were traveling home from school for the weekend. I was on the passenger side casually scrolling through my feeds on Twitter and Facebook. All at once, I began to see the dreaded “Rest in Peace” posts. At this point, nobody was posting a name of the deceased, because of, I only guess, respect for the person’s family. In my opinion, that is not respect. For one, if you are a resident of a close-knit community where everybody knows everybody, seeing “RIP” on a social networking site and not knowing who the person is sends people into a frenzy.
The unnamed could very well be someone’s own kin.  I, for one, definitely went into panic mode. My sister was traveling home from college that day, my parents had their own daily errands that involved travel, and one of my close friends was also traveling home from college for the weekend.
I called my mom, and all of my family was safe, which eased my heart just a tad. Soon after that phone call, I continued scrolling on Facebook, and I stumbled across the name of the deceased. From that point on, my already bad perspective of announcing someone’s death on social media worsened.
I have never had the dreaded experience of finding out a relative of mine has passed away via social media. Honestly, I do not know how I would react to finding out news so devastating.
One thing my family and I agreed upon was to never put our personal business on social media. My parents, three siblings and I live two or more hours away from each other. If an emergency happens, I would want to learn the news while with the comfort of my own family instead of receiving hundreds of notifications from Facebook. Word of bad news spreads fast, but waiting a few days or even a week to express condolences on Facebook would help ease the pain of losing a family member or friend.
Have you ever stopped before posting a “Rest in Peace” status on a social site to think about the multitude of people it would affect? You never know if that person’s whole family has been notified. Just think, if you were to die right at this moment, where would the people be whom you would want to know immediately? They could be at work, on vacation, out of the country, hours away at college, serving our country overseas or in other hard-to-reach places.
No one deserves to log onto a social site to find out that a family member or a loved one has passed away. How would you feel if you found out your brother, niece, uncle, friend or cousin died via Facebook? The next time you think of putting up a “Rest in Peace” post, take into consideration how many people will be affected by it.
Quinta Goines is a junior multimedia journalism major from Needham.

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