Maggie Freeman of Sutton, Ontario, Canada, couldn’t believe the comment on her Facebook wall. “When my dad passed away, I received the following message on my wall. ‘I am so sorry for your loss. LOL!!!’ I was taken aback as to why she thought my dad’s passing was so funny and only recently discovered that the person who wrote on my wall thought that LOL stood for lots of love and not laugh out loud.”
LOL FACEBOOK DEATH STATUS BLUNDER
It should be common sense not to use acronyms and cyber-slang when expressing condolences, even if you know what the short-form LOL means.
Kimberley Joy Peters, an author living across Lake Simcoe from Freeman, had this to say about using short-forms, “I especially hate RIP Kirsten — you will be missed. RIP? You can’t even be bothered to type out the words ‘Rest in Peace’ for someone you are going to miss????”
I’m glad to know that Kim will miss me. But she’s right. If you’re going to post about death, take the time to do it properly. Don’t type abbreviations of how sorry you are with your left thumb while driving down the highway sipping a latte. It’s not a condolence race. Plus, your “RIP” makes it look like you don’t give a shit. Maybe you don’t. If you don’t, then why are you posting at all?
BLUNDER of BLUNDERS: POSTING THE BAD NEWS BEFORE THE FAMILY KNOWS
Michael Hald of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, had the shock of a lifetime — and not one you expect when logging onto Facebook for a daily dose of cat videos. “I found out that my father died through Facebook when my cousin said that she was sorry for my loss. That sucks.”
No kidding “that sucks.” It should also be common sense to take a look at the immediate family members’ Facebook walls before broadcasting the bad news on a public forum. If they haven’t made a public death post, don’t do it for them. Wait for them to do this. Some people don’t even announce the death of their loved ones on social networking. I don’t.
Author and journalist JoBeth McDaniel encountered a similar circumstance to Hald’s on Facebook. I asked JoBeth why she thought people felt the need to be first to post about someone else’s tragedy. “Narcissism,” she speculated. “Wanting to be the center of attention. Trying to ‘appear sympathetic’ while behaving like a jerk.”
WE DON’T WANT TO SEE YOUR GRANNY’S CORPSE
The first thing that crosses my mind when someone posts a picture of dead granny (or pappy or anyone) in a hospital bed is, “Did your grandmother want you posting images of her corpse on the Internet?” Here are some of my esteemed Facebook friends’ reactions:
Gary Buslik (Chicago), author and humorist, speaks for Grandma. “She’s looking down from heaven, thinking, What, hey? I look better dead than I ever did alive. Of course I want my kids to send the pix to their Facebook friends. I wish we had FB up here, so I could irritate the shit out of Jesus — who, by the way, also looks better dead.”
And Dana Talusani’s (Denver) response to death pics was, “Hey, everyone! Look at my granny, who is totally circling the drain right now! WTF?” Talusani (The Kitchen Witch) also adds, “By the way, ‘circling the drain’ is a term my husband learned in medical residency. Doctors are very dark, sarcastic fuckers.”
Nikki M. Mascali, editor of TheBlot Magazine in New York, said, “I think it’s distasteful and disrespectful to the poor person who is on their deathbed. I sure as hell wouldn’t want a pic taken of me close to death or after death. Disgusting.”
As my friends and I were discussing this on Facebook. This below image of someone’s granny passed through Maggie Freeman’s newsfeed. The timing couldn’t have be better for this illustration.
Jill Paris (California), author of “Life is Like a Walking Safari,” related a viewing horror of hers: “A friend’s ‘death slides’ (taken by her father) of her mother’s diseased torso was beyond a WTF moment for me. Crazy-looking silver instruments stuck out of this poor woman’s swollen, bloodied cavity like croquet wickets after a hurricane. I told her that maybe she should delete the images. Yikes. I want to see shit like that about as much as I want to watch one of those videos [that passes through my Facebook newsfeed] of people getting mauled to death by lions or tigers.”
VAGUE-BOOKING ATTENTION SEEKERS
Karen Kubliski (Lucas, Texas) finds vague death status updates exasperating, such as, “Those times when I had to read 30 comments to figure out whether an acquaintance was mourning a family member or a pet. If you name your cat ‘Sylvia,’ take the time to type ‘Sylvia the cat’ in FB statuses.”
Another eye-roll example of vague-booking that Karen gave was, “We’re going to miss Uncle Steve so much!” She points out that 200 Facebook friends are left wondering if Uncle Steve is dead. Or maybe Steve went away for a while.
DID SOMEONE JUST HIT THE LIKE BUTTON?
Jessica Grace Raso (Toronto) said on my wall, “I just find it weird that to acknowledge you’ve seen someone’s death notice status, you have to LIKE it. Feels weird every time.”
Noah Zuss, a New York journalist for TheBlot, has a great rule. “Don’t press LIKE.”
Facebook doesn’t have a DISLIKE button, so leave a comment to acknowledge that you’ve read the death announcement or make personal contact, send a letter or a donation to a cause in the deceased’s name — or don’t do anything because nothing is better than LIKING someone’s death (unless you actually LIKE that they’re dead).
DID MY DEAD FRIEND JUST UPDATE THEIR STATUS?
Nobody should take over a dead person’s Facebook account. I almost fainted when my dead friend Daniel updated his Facebook profile one night and a post from his account went through my newsfeed. That’s when I discovered that someone (whoever inherited his laptop) also now had access to his account, all his private messages on Facebook (probably his personal e-mail as well) and his friends’ information. Daniel was a psychotherapist and people told him personal things (just something to ponder the next time you send a personal message to someone).
Read more: Who’s Your Digital Executor?
Because of this, I unfriended all my dead friends, but I now have discovered you don’t have to do that to protect your privacy from strangers and to stop getting posts from dead friends in your newsfeed.
You can report the death of a friend to Facebook, and Facebook will review and then memorialize the account. This will prevent someone logging into the deceased’s account or using Facebook as the dead person. Friends will still be able to post on the memorialized person’s wall, but the social network will stop alerting people to the deceased person’s birthday or suggesting them as a potential friend to people they hadn’t friended before they died.
FACEBOOK LETS YOU PLAN AHEAD FOR YOUR OWN DEMISE
You can pre-arrange what will happen to your profile when you die. I wish I could say “if you die.” You can select whether you’d like your profile permanently deleted or if you’d like it to be a memorial.
Kirsten Koza is the author of “Lost in Moscow: A Brat in the USSR,” a humorist, a contributing journalist at TheBlot Magazine and recently edited “Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets, and a Demon Dildo” — coming to bookstores this autumn.