File photo (Dreamstime/TNS)

File photo (Dreamstime/TNS)

As a rule, your real friends don’t live on Facebook

Death and social media

End of life and estate planning are hardly cheerful subjects, and therefore are ones that many avoid, putting off the inevitable.

In 2018, an Angus Reid poll suggested only half of Canadians had wills, despite ongoing education and promotion about how important it is for adults to ensure their affairs are in order.

So many painful things to think about it, and then there is Facebook.

What will happen to your Facebook profile when you die?

This comes up for me every February, on the anniversary of a dear friend’s birthday. Kim died suddenly seven years ago.

We had our own celebratory traditions. Every year for her birthday I’d slip a bottle of Pinot Grigio under her desk, and on my birthday she always put flowers in my office.

Now I just get a Facebook notification, reminding me to wish her a happy birthday.

It’s creepy and sad. I’m not sure if she’d disapprove, or just have a good laugh about it.

Okay, she probably doesn’t care anymore. Something to think about.

It was odd though, the first couple of times it happened, because friends who didn’t realize she’d died would actually post birthday greetings to her page.

How close are your Facebook friends, honestly, if they can say Happy Birthday but don’t know you are actually not still alive? Something to think about.

Readers might find it comforting to know that since 2009, Facebook has offered a memorializing service for individual profiles.

A Facebook user, under her settings, can assign a ‘legacy’ person to manage her profile going forward after…well…after there is no more going forward.

Sort of like setting up guardianship for underage kids, presumably.

Someone charged with the legacy of your Facebook page wields considerable power. That person can write and pin a final message on your behalf, and moderate tributes posted to your still-active page.

This person can also update your profile photo. What? And they can accept new friend requests on your behalf. Why?

Finally, you can request that your Facebook profile be deleted, and your legacy contact can manage that as well.

What’s the point?

Apparently no one has to die on Facebook, but it’s heartbreaking that so many people seem to live there.

It’s especially apparent today, when posts are driving political events and consuming and dividing users, while what’s desired most are genuine human experiences and growth.

Try pursuing happiness without being constantly connected to nearly three billion strangers that are also on the world’s largest social network.

Read more books and fewer threads, experiment in the kitchen, commit a piece of art, plant something, take walks, watch birds, listen to a senior citizen, play with children, build something with tools and wood, learn a new skill, volunteer, travel, tell jokes. Do it all and more without wondering how many emojis a photo or meme might earn you.

In other words, everyone needs to get and enjoy a real life, for their own sake.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com


 
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