Friday, February 13, 2015

Will Facebook outlive us all?

I woke up Thursday morning to the sight and sound of a CNN-like news anchor type saying she thought it was bizarre that Facebook would feel the need to create an option by which people can easily turn over control of their pages after they are deceased.

I might have been inclined to agree; personally I don’t see a need to care about what becomes of the odd smatterings that appear on my own Facebook page once I am gone. But I have the experience of my aunt Charlene – who managed to figure out a way to do what Facebook says it will now allow many others to do.

IN THE CASE of mi tia loca (she would have laughed at my sarcastic description), she died about a year-and-a-half ago. But her brother also had access to her account, which means he has taken to making postings on her behalf.

I literally recall the day she died because I learned about it on Facebook. I happened to stumble on her page on a Sunday morning, only to see that a posting was made an hour earlier that read simply, “I’m in Heaven.”

Her brother later that day posted some details about her passing, all written in a first-person voice as though it were my aunt writing. Later, some video shot during her wake was posted on the page.

Since then, her brother has taken to posting various old photographs of my aunt, along with notices about the project that had become the focus of my aunt’s life in her retiring years (she had a career teaching in the Chicago Public Schools) – her “traveling Mexican museum” as she called it.

IT REALLY WAS a collection of the various artifacts and knickknacks she had compiled during her life’s various trips to Mexico; which she would periodically put on public display.

As a tribute to my aunt, her brother has kept the collection and occasionally sets it up (the one time I saw it, it took an entire banquet hall in Chicago to contain it) – using Facebook to let people know when those occasions will occur.

It sounds more bizarre than it is. It actually comes across as an interesting way of remembering my aunt – particularly when my own Facebook page gets an update from her page and I can have a quick, but pleasant, memory of her.

Somehow, I doubt my aunt is alone in having something interesting to say even after they’re gone. Let’s only hope that the people who get picked to carry on someone’s Facebook legacy have enough tact not to try to settle old grudges with someone once they’re no longer capable of defending themselves.

CONSIDERING HOW MUCH the rest of Facebook and the Internet is capable of being taken over by people with no sense of personal decorum, it is always a very serious threat.

Reading trashy updates about the dead is about as boorish of behavior that one could engage in. Let’s hope that this trend of Facebook pages outliving the people whose lives they were a part of is not something that has to be stifled because of those of us who can’t control the worst tendencies of our natures!

It should be said that I have no intention of delegating anybody to carry on my own Facebook page (which consists largely of posts from this weblog to expand the number of people who are capable of reading it). I don’t plan to try to figure out a way of filing copy from the great beyond.

As far as my own page is concerned, I’m inclined to agree with the musings of a few reporter-type people I know who said (on Facebook, if you must know) that a final posting of a simple “-30-” (the old typesetting symbol for ‘end of story’) is the best way to go.


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