How do you learn about the death of someone you know or have known? Right now for me I usually learn about someone’s passing through Facebook. In the past several months I’ve heard about at least five deaths through Facebook: A dear friend I met at college died from a stroke in March or April, but I read about it on his Facebook page months later. Another friend, one who I’d only met once, but felt very close to died mysteriously in May and it was posted on his Facebook page. Two of my mom’s friends, one of whom I’d become close to in the previous year, died last year — I learned of their deaths on Facebook too. Just yesterday I learned (via by brother via Facebook) that my late cousin’s widow (now remarried) died.
I’m asking you this because when I told my husband (Dean) about the cousin-by-marriage’s death (someone we both admired and thought was very sweet) his reaction was not, “Oh, that’s sad. I always liked Deb.” but “How did Kevin (my brother) find out? and when I said, “Facebook” he was surprised (and sounded disaproving).
I used to hear about the deaths of family members or family friends through my mom. Now, other than Facebook, Kevin will occassionally text me or FB message me. I guess Dean gets his notifications through his family and maybe he figures that it doesn’t matter if people die and he doesn’t know about it, especially if he has had no interaction with those people in a long time.
Maybe that’s the difference between us. I like connections, no matter if they are online or offline (but online has been easier for me ever since there was an online), and if one of those connections is lost through death I want to know. I might not do much about it except write a condolence message to the family in a comment, but I want to know so I can think about that person and what they meant to me.
All of this said, I would not want to hear about the death of a close friend or family member on Facebook — which is why, when my parents died I made sure to call people it mattered to before it leaked onto Facebook. I very nearly learned about my Aunt Ginny’s death on Facebook, but luckily for me Uncle Jack called me.
As much as Facebook has its faults, it does have some features, and providing personal news is one of them.