My first one arrived this morning, “Dawn Brown and 2 others have their birthdays today. Help them have a great time”. Facebook doesn’t know that Dawn’s time ended on April 3rd this year; her life is gone, her remains interred, yet still her social media profile lives on, sailing like a ghost ship through the ether.
How we deal with the electronic personas of those who’ve passed on presents us with social, ethical and legal questions for the years to come, but for the time being at least Facebook will continue to remind us of those who are no more.
And one day there’ll be notifications for us.
Most of us live lives that will afford us no statuary or monuments when we die, we will leave behind no canon of work to immortalise us, we will not be as much as a footnote in the history books of the future, but our social media presence will remain. What we say, how we say it, what we like, what we share will be out there, perhaps forever. Day by day, post by post, click by click, we build our own mausoleums.
If these notifications remind us of anything then let them remind us that what we say on-line may be the prism through which those we care about now, and those that come after them, view us. The good as well as the evil that we do shall live after us, and each of us decides upon the proportion.
Maybe start by remembering that a reminder of a dead friend’s birthday is a reminder to treasure people while we have them, and behave a little more kindly towards them while we can. While we’re here we have choices to make, let these notification from the dead be a reminder to make them well.
Happy birthday, Dawn. RIP.