June 14, 2004 21:43 | Culture / Social / WebTech

Death in the age of Social Software

Following the dreadful email mentioned in the previous post, I was contacted with the following suggestion:

... should we put something onto the bulletin board at Friendster for the non-bloggers who know her there? It seems like a grim task, but maybe you could also notify the people on her friends list. It seems like the right thing to do.

I have a few reservations about this. Any thoughts?


change the subject

What are your reservations exactly, Boris? Are you worried that these people didn't know her enough? Or maybe that they might not want to hear about it? If she was truly active on Friendster, then there are probably people who would want to know what happened.

Maybe instead of using the bulletin board, you could contact people individually, at least the ones that you are pretty sure don't know already.

Maybe your hesitancy is a comment on Friendster itself; it seems to have gotten a certain character of 24-hour-partying, devil-may-care urban hipsterism and to mention anything as real as death seems out of place. Maybe it's time for Friendster to grow up a little bit.... but you don't have to be the one to make that call if you don't want to.

In the meantime, I think a sensitive direct message to some people would be very much appreciated, as Martine says.

Death is part of the daily things happening, we just have a tendency to forget it more than in the past. 50 years ago, people were staying near the dead persons of the family in the last night, we have sterilized the death and make it distant when it's not.

To come back to your question. There are no right solutions, but I know that with death the sooner, the better, people want to know and they are very angry when they learn it late even if it doesn't change anything.