death news by Facebook

Scuba Man’s uncle passed away last week.  They were not close.  Matter of fact, other than one uncle and a few cousins, he is not close with his extended family at all.

Rest Easy Uncle Eugene

Except for phone calls, and sometime visits with my wonderful sister-in-law and niece and nephew, we mainly keep in contact with his family using Facebook.  That being said, why the heck would you post a family member’s death on Facebook as a way to let the rest of the family know?  Am I the only one who finds this appalling?

The aunt that made the post is the one that tries to keep the family updated and close.  She sends out the yearly address and phone number updates to all family members and plans the family reunions.  It’s not as if a phone tree couldn’t be started to let family know of the death.

I was chatting online with Scuba Man late that morning.  I asked it he had been up on Facebook.  He said no and asked why.  I told him, without thinking, about the death.  How freakin’ insensitive am I???  As soon as I hit enter, I regretted it.  Did the same thing happen with the Facebook post?  This is not the way to let someone know a family member has died, regardless of how close they are.

Has this become the norm?  Have we become an electronic society for everything?  I will be the first to say I enjoy using Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends.  I love being able to chat with Scuba Man when he’s at work, because we can chat on our own schedule.  If one on us is on the phone, the other will know because an answer is slow in coming or it actually says so in the status.  Neither of us feels obligated to drop everything to answer immediately, as we do with a phone call.

The more I think about it, the more I would like to start going a day or so a week technology free.  No computer, no mobile phone, no television, and probably no radio.  For some reason, I have hated technology big time the last several weeks.  I’m ready to throw it all out the window.  I don’t understand it.  Can someone please explain this to me?

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16 Responses to death news by Facebook

  1. ClassyRose says:

    Hi Shell, I don’t feel you should notify people of the death of a family member using any social network. First notification should be by phone to immediate family members and close friends. As you say a “phone tree” would spread the word quickly.

    They could later post a tribute on their Facebook page.

    I think we can all get frustrated with technology these days including not getting a “live” person when you call someone. 🙂

  2. Dillon says:

    Well, being on the edge of the electronic generation, I have a slightly different view. First of all, I do agree that a death should not be announced by means of a status update. On the other hand, if it is someone I wasn’t very close to, I would definitely understand (and expect and maybe even appreciate) getting an email or a private message instead of a phone call. (Note that I do mean a private message, not a post on my wall.) Also, I do think that a notification of someone’s death via texting would be quite tacky.

    When my grandpa died last summer, we were in phone contact with my siblings and cousins, but we did also post an update shortly after he died, primarily so that our friends who didn’t know him would know what was going on. Like I said, though, the people who knew him personally and were close to him received phone calls.

    In general, other than extremely important news (and I do mean extremely), I always prefer written correspondence, whether through Facebook, email, or texting. Even with important news, unless it’s time-sensitive (as in you need to know my response sooner than 12ish hours), I still prefer written correspondence. I am an introvert and need time to react and formulate a response. I hate (with quite a passion) talking on the phone because I have no time to think, I feel rushed to answer (much more than talking in person, where you can give visual signs that you are thinking), and I always have trouble hearing or understanding the person on the other end. So for me in a case like this, I’d want to find out in writing so that I’ll have time to react to the news appropriately.

    As an aside, this is why I like texting. I have time to think and formulate a reply, but it is still basically instantaneous.

    • Dillon says:

      PS. I hate drive-thru restaurants for the same reasons I hate phone calls. That’s why, unless the order is very simple, I usually just walk into fast food restaurants instead of doing the drive-thru. 🙂

      • melsar93 says:

        I agree with your theory of written vs spoken correspondance and I do the same thing with Drive-thrus. Drives my wife crazy.

        • Seashell says:

          I’m the same. I prefer written as opposed to spoken correspondence. I’ve been trying to process the reasoning behind it being announced this way and just chalk it up to people handling things differently.

  3. melsar93 says:

    I think as we see social media evolve there will be new ettiqutte for things like this. I’m not sure how that will look in 20 years, but I can see a day when social media has repalced the phone completely and the chatting window will be your “phone”. Someone will see you are online and a video chat can be opened to talk. This would still allow a private conversation about topics like a relative passing

    • Seashell says:

      I think you’re right Mike. I find myself talking on the phone less and less. Mostly, it’s to people I don’t communicate with over the Internet. Guess this is why mobile phones are no longer just phones but can do so much more.

  4. It made me sad when I read this post. Yes, they have obituaries in newspapers but as a family member a phonecall would have been more personal and more in keeping with the situation. I do not like facebook at all!

    As for living without technology…not sure…it’s now part of our lives but we should not let it rule us.

    PiP

    • Seashell says:

      Sometimes, PiP, I just want to move to the beach, disconnect the TV & internet, and live “in person”. Not many people seem to do that any more. You can’t even go out to dinner without seeing someone sitting at the table texting on the phone.

  5. Theresa says:

    Interesting post! No, I wouldn’t want to read about the death of a family member, even if we weren’t close. And I definitely agree with your thoughts of a technology free day. Last year we got rid of cable and our land line phone. We still have more computers than people here and often times everyone will be in a different room, sitting in front of a screen. I get frustrated, sometimes it’s just too much…

    • Seashell says:

      We no longer have a land line, but still have cable. Like your family, we have more computers than people. Between the two of us, we have at least 4, maybe more. Scuba Man takes care of all of that. It seems like when the TV isn’t on, we’re both at our computers. What is interesting is, when I use my computer in my office, instead of sitting on the sofa and using it, Scuba Man tends to come and sit in my office to talk. We talk more! So, my laptop has been spending more and more time on my desk instead of in my lap!

  6. boyonabudget says:

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. The death of a family member (even if far away) strikes the heart. However, I’ve turn into quite the introvert who keeps up with the world via facebook and email. My son, mom and brother are the only people I speak with on the phone on a regular basis. But I’m closer to my cousins than I ever have been via facebook. A cousin emailed me through facebook back in the fall to let me know to tell my dad that his sister had passed away. Dad has been VERY distant to his family for 20 plus years. My brother does a better job keeping in touch with that side of the family and I stay in touch with our Mom’s family.
    Like you, I would be upset about a death notice via a facebook post. However, email has become the normal form of communication in our family in the last 2 years. Even my mom (in her 70s) enjoys facebook.
    Again, so sorry for your loss and I hope you and Scuba Man hold each other tight through this time of grief. Love heals a world of hurt.
    Kathleen

  7. shobavish says:

    Good post! Thought-provoking. I agree with the bulk of the comments that Facebook for announcing a family member’s death is a direction we don’t want to take.

    Here is exploring the idea from another angle though – If you share joy, why not sorrow? Many people feel comfortable sharing personal good news with a circle of 100-150 people because it feels good, right? Maybe in the same spirit, they want to let the world know that this is a time of unhappiness and distress….

    This is coming from someone who finds it very hard to add any kind of personal status updates. So, it is just a theoretical point from me.

    • Seashell says:

      I so agree sorrow should be shared, even on FB. There is a saying “Friendship doubles your joy and divides your sorrow”. I totally agree with that.

      I only wish the news would have come by email, at least, rather than family first finding it out on Facebook.

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