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Death and social media

This podcast explores the topic of death and social media. How do we experience the physical death of a friend online? What implications does it have on the mourning process? Do social networks amplify or assuage the experience of loosing a loved person? Death and social media introduction


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  1. niharika 13:56, Mar 23rd, 10

    I have been thinking of writing a paper on this very topic for over a semester now… I have experienced this first hand over the past year, after the tragic loss of a close friend. I have found that his facebook page seems to have become this virtual memorial for many people who continue to talk to him and leave him messages as if reaching out to him in ‘that other world’… It is a disturbing experience, and if anything has prolonged the mourning process for me personally.
    Another unnerving phenomenon is that of finding out of a person’s death online, before being informed in person by family or friends.

  2. Harris 14:03, Mar 23rd, 10

    I remember talking to Niharika about this, I had a similar very devastating experience and was very intrigued by how his profile became a virtual memorial space.
    And she’s right on with how this can prolong the misery, especially when facebook keeps suggesting that you should message them because you haven’t talked to them recently.

    Nadine I’m experiencing technical difficulties hearing the podcast for some reason :(

  3. HoniehLayla 14:21, Mar 23rd, 10


    I found the following article from CNET. It doesn’t necessarily address the issues of SNSes, but it might help you with your topic as far as what devices are being built in order to help individuals move on.

    Apparently this is a virtual tombstone, where you can login and see pictures/links.


  4. nadine 14:30, Mar 23rd, 10

    Arg…..I can’t transform the file!!! Has somebody worked with Audacity before?

  5. niharika 14:55, Mar 23rd, 10

    Nadine, it really does become a virtual tombstone. My friend’s sister, mother and girlfriend are continously tagging old photos of his, scanning in new ones, etc and whats worse they leave him msgs, as if he were reading them.
    Furthermore, Facebook now has a function where if you email them about the profile of a deceased person, they will remove features such as – Current Location, etc from the profile, making it a dormant profile of sorts, but a memorial nonetheless.

  6. Ryan 15:08, Mar 23rd, 10

    Social Media and death is a topic which I am ambivalent about. As I told you before and Honieh commented, the ‘virtual tombstones’ left over are kinda weird and honorary at the same time. However, what if the parents want their son’s or daughter’s facebook profile removed for some reason? I wonder what people’s thoughts are on it. Like I said this is a topic that you could develop into something bigger if you wanted to. You have some great questions by the way. I wonder what kind of approach – I’d assume an ethnographic approach with people online asking them their experiences. I also wonder if you could actually perform an experiment somehow using maybe yourself without freaking people out.

  7. nadine 21:43, Mar 23rd, 10

    Ok guys, if you ever encounter the same problem, here is the solution:

    If you record with the free software called Audacity:
    1) Export your file as a WAV
    2) Import that file in your i-tunes
    3) When in i-tunes, go to PREFERENCES- then under GENERAL PREFERENCES, chose IMPORT OPTIONS/SETTINGS- then choose IMPORT MP3 and save! Then hit the save button before closing the GENEARL PREFERENCES.
    4) Now search for your file in your i-tunes library, and when clicking the right-click bottom, choose CREATE MP3 VERSION.


  8. mushon 21:56, Mar 25th, 10

    Fascinating topic and good job on the podcast. I think a key might be the switch of a person from a social actor to a social object. Basically when you’re dead you are not active in a social network. Rather than a node, you become a part of the flow, like an event, a fan page or the latest meme. I think this is a huge shift and yet another way in which social media is too mathematical to represent our social lives.
    There was a panel on the subject of your travelogue in SXSW last week. Maybe it can provide some leads for you: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/4406