Can we talk about something for a minute here. I’ve noticed a pretty disturbing trend forming around death and social media. It seems to be taking the Peace out of R.I.P.
Social media is where we get our news nowadays, the news that affects us personally. No one checks the obituaries in the paper any more, so oftentimes the bereft use social media to notify friends outside of the family of someone’s passing.
I personally have mentioned on social media from time to time that someone I love has passed away. Although I understand why a lot of people see this as inappropriate, I find it easier to put out one blanket statement instead of having to relive my grief every time I have to tell someone who doesn’t know.
That being said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about this.
This is the wrong way:
Don’t hashtag death. Just don’t. Seriously, your grandfather is probably rolling in his grave right now.
And Emojis? This is not the occasion for a smiley face.
But as off-putting as an unclassy status update can be, the response from your friends list is usually worse.
There seems to be a distinct generation gap when it comes to the way people interact with these types of status.
This is the response to a respectful post by someone in their 50s:
And this is the response to a respectful post made by a millennial:
Being on the receiving end of a ‘Like’ when your family member has passed away can feel like a slap in the face. Honestly, what is there to like about this?
Although I feel like Facebook noticed this trend early on, and answered the need for diversity in lazy communication with the invention of ‘Reactions.’
I feel like Reactions are Facebook’s way of lulling us into thinking that a sad face response is a genuine source of comfort for grieving people.
What exactly is the thought process there? “Dave’s mom passed away, and maybe I should go to the funeral, but I mean, I gave him a sad face on his status so… I feel I’ve done my part.”
It’s true that you can almost cover the five stages of grief with new Reactions options like Love, Wow, Sad and Angry. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
So please be a good friend and use your words, not your Likes.