Over the past several years, you, as well as I, have probably reconnected with old friends, or made wonderful new friends by using Facebook or Twitter, maybe even another social media platform. I love getting online and seeing what the wonderful people in my life are up to - sharing their moments with their families, making me laugh with their selfies, and sometimes sharing a serious moment with them too, where I can reach out to them and give them a virtual hug.
But sometimes, when Facebook reminds me of a birthday, or someone’s name comes up in my search bar, I am reminded of those who have left us a bit too early. It makes me sad. It also makes me remember – the good times, too – wishing there would be more.
It got me thinking - how many online social profiles are there at this point which used to belong to someone who has passed on? There must be thousands if not more. I then started to wonder, what happens to these profiles? Do they just live on in internet infinity? Can families of these people disable these accounts? Would they want to? Should there be a “social graveyard”?
I started thinking about my own legacy. I think, when my time is up, I would want my Facebook pages and Twitter feed to remain as a remembrance. I would want my daughter and grandchildren to look me up online and see who I was and what I did. If they wanted to know what I did on a specific day or in a certain year, it would be there. What a wonderful way to have my memory live on, when I am no longer with the living.
I would have loved to have Googled my grandma and see what her Facebook profile was back in the day if it existed! She could have posted a photo of the milkman delivering milk via his horse and buggy to her house! Her photos only would have been black and white in her Instagram account. I’m sure she would have had selfies wearing forties fashion. Maybe her status update would have been something like “I can’t believe JFK was shot today!” or “Can you believe it? A man really walked on the moon!” How incredible would it be to read something like that now!
But that said, in real life, when I want to remember someone loved and lost, I have someplace special to go to, or I can select the moment when I remember most of the time. Maybe social media platforms should have a designated zone for those who have departed. Their profiles live on, but given some dignity where they can’t be sent requests to play games, and those who want to visit them can do so without having their birthdays pop up in their newsfeeds unrequested. These were just some thoughts that have been running through my mind as I perused my list of those loved but no longer with me on Facebook, for one.
What I do feel is grateful for technology to give all of us the option to chronologize our lives in ways that have never been done before – with photos and sound bites and encapsulements of our thoughts and feelings. These are pieces of us – pieces of our past – and are so precious. I love how I can click over and see photos of those I miss so easily, defying the bounds of not just earthly time and space, but reconnecting me in a sense with souls who should still be here.