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Love and death in the time of social media

recently, I came across an article in the new york times which has me questioning the way things are evolving. how could bereavement and loss occur in a very public forum without people or hugs or kind words?

according to the article, bereavement and loss have now come into a very public forum. generation Y-ers and millennials have begun projecting their own sensibilities onto rituals and discussions surrounding death. this first generation of digital natives are starting blogs, YouTube series and Instagram feeds about grief, loss and even the macabre.

modern loss in fact is a company geared to people of a younger age to address their many permutations of loss, from bereavement to miscarriage to a parent’s death. it was formed by 2 young women who didn’t have anyone of ‘their’ age to grieve the parents’ death. one of them didn’t have anyone who’d lost both parents.

when did it become necessary to have someone of the same age group to mourn or grieve a loved one? what did this same age group of yesteryear do when faced with death and mourning? have we not done it well enough that it has to be bettered?

the generation known for broadcasting internal monologues across the internet are eager to encode not just good things, but painful things, too. they get online and send condolences or share grief then ‘delete’ their mother. you’re supposed to ‘like’ a death. isn’t that verging on ‘creepiness’ as you could accumulate hundreds of likes for losing a lost one? and isn’t sharing someone’s death like killing that person over and over again? how is that decreasing the pain or loss of a loved one when you have many reminders from sharing?

the article said that one person went to see a shaman, every therapist in NYC, healer, and swears that the only thing which helped her was talking to people of her age who had also had some devastating news. the key here is she had ‘real people’ to dissipate her grief. not a post, share, tweet, image on a computer.

is the public posting of death a display instead of distress?

letters of condolences or cards are more thoughtful when hand written. but the young are itchy to connect virtually because internet and technology are ubiquitous to their existence. people are even taking selfies at funerals when they do go. one person posted on tumblr : “love my hair today. hate the reason why i’m dressed up # funeral.”

is this the modern way of mourning ?
doesn’t that kind of mourning signify that it’s NOT about the dead or those immediately affected, but the one facebooking or instagramming etc?

the idea of mourning- whether via facebook or twitter etc- is displeasing to older relatives, but it is especially disrespectful, for it lacks real communication. and real soul.

people no longer want to attend funerals, which to me spells the death of funerals. and soon, people will no longer want to attend weddings either, and will send their virtual presence instead. people will fall in love with computers more and more: spike jonze’s her isn’t the only movie to relate such a romance between an OS system [Samantha] and man. see also electric dreams, a 1984 british-american science fiction romantic comedy-drama film set in san francisco, that depicts a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a home computer. another film by andrew niccol in 2002, simone, [derived from simulation one] is the story of al pacino who’s created the 3-D simone and the world has no clue that simone is a computer generated woman. or in print, try eve future, an end of the nineteenth century novel by vilier de l’isle adam which tells the story of man so obsessed with perfection that he builds his own statue of a woman, a mechanical woman, a ‘computer’ really, fashioned after venus- before the computer or internet age, of course!- and prays that the gods imbue it with life.

how lonely does one have to be to fall in love with a statue or soulless computer? and how strange to want to mourn with a soulless computer! would the tears be fake or real? would the period of necessary mourning be forfeited in favor of…? how would that dead be mourned in a real way?

flesh-and-blood mourning is required to get over a loss. not distant posts or selfies or brief or abridged condolences.

dead or alive, celebrating, romancing and mourning require presence, in flesh-and-blood!



  1. Michele Archange says:

    I wish there were more articles about death so thank you for writing this review. Death is not a morbid topic as people would rush to qualify their statement as soon as they express some interest in death. It is quite interesting to read how younger generation are dealing with loss by doing what they do best: make it public. For the older generation death is taboo and it is not discussed as I experienced recently not 3 months had gone by, friends started to tell me to get over grief and celebrate the loved one’s life instead ect. What we are all in denial about young and old is when death comes near us it makes face our own mortality. At some point during the grieving process there are inner musings about our own death. So making grief public makes it less personal other people can comment. Thrre is no escaping other people dying and our own death. The only consolation is poetry. Here’a piem from Rilke
    “whom should I turn to,
    if not the one whose darkness
    is darker than night, the only one
    who keeps vigil with no candle
    and is not afraid
    the deep one, whose being I trust
    for its breaks

  2. Michele Archange says:

    So sorry press the wrong button so the rest of the poem
    ” for it breaks through the earth into trees
    and rises,
    When I bowmy head
    faint as a fragrance
    from the soil”

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