My First Loss in the Age of Social Media Grieving

My First Loss in the Age of Social Media Grieving

 

This week I unexpectedly lost my best friend, platonic soulmate, and “every day” person. By “every day” person, I mean we had that special relationship where we told each other the little things that don’t seem important to anyone else. I find myself still wanting to text him every time something small happens. Having my entire world turned upside down in the matter of a day was difficult enough, but I never expected to be so horrified by the public response to his death.

I preface this by saying I know grief is not a competition. I know everyone handles death in their own way and has a right to respond to it as they will. I am at no point saying that anyone’s grief or expression of love toward someone is invalid or a lie. I only offer a perspective that I did not previously understand before losing someone so close, and know many people simply do not understand. My friend’s death was quickly publicized by the news, radio, and social media. Many people I was not even aware knew my best friend were suddenly expressing their unconditional love on all forms of social media. One stranger wrote “RIP” before he was even gone. Others shared stories about that one time they played a show with his band.

At this point, one might be thinking, “I don’t see the problem here. Everyone is expressing their love for the person. How is this insensitive?” It’s true, no one had a single bad thing to say. It was all sympathetic and positive and loving. So why does it bother me so much? The first reason is social media is simply an insincere platform. Expressing grief on social media is like writing “happy birthday” on someone’s Facebook wall. If you’re really their friend, why aren’t you just calling or messaging them? My friend’s death has been turned into a #trend. Everyone feels the need to be publicly included in the grieving.

While there are many sincere people who loved my friend and still chose to post, there were many who used my friend’s death to draw attention to themselves. Posting a selfie with a caption telling everyone to “live life to the fullest and not regret anything” is insensitive. I question if some of my peers are more upset at the reality of death than the actual death. Even if they don’t realize it. Yes, I’m sure they are actually upset. Again, I’m not trying to invalidate people’s feelings. BUT, the choice to post self-centered posts that draw attention to themselves for the sake of getting likes makes me want to scream, “I HOPE MY BEST FRIEND’S DEATH IS GETTING YOU ALL OF THE LIKES YOU WANTED.”

Grief is the most personal and heart-wrenching experience in my life. Having all of my peers constantly make insensitive public posts is overwhelming and I feel like the worst experience in my life is being put on display. I find myself wanting to be territorial over my friend. It might not be a competition of who loved him most, but grief makes the griever irrationally emotional. It doesn’t have to be fair. It doesn’t have to be “right.” I feel what I feel, and what I feel is a lot of anger.

In a week, most of the people who made these posts will be able to continue their lives normally. I don’t get that. Those closest to him don’t get to go back to normal lives in the next week or month. At worst, they’ll think back about his death, be sad, and think “that was such a shame.” At best for me, I’ll make it through the day without crying every time I’m alone a year from now. All I want is for everyone to think before they post about the death of someone. It may be making the grieving experience worse for those closest to the person. I love you best friend. Forever.

 

Anna Dore
Anna Dore
Editor-in-Chief at New Plains Review
Managing Editor and Blog Editor for The New Plains Review.

1 thought on “My First Loss in the Age of Social Media Grieving

  1. I’m glad u posted this, I feel the same way. My heart goes out u and those who were close to your dear friend.

    I feel that those who publicly post obituaries via social media are not paying their respects neccesarily and often being insincere about it. Sure, everyone grieves differently, but to resort to SM to publicly post that your grandma passed away for your “followers” and the rest of the world to see can be an act of grief… but it also shows what kindof person the griever is. Self-centred for 1.

    An old gal friend of mine posted a collage of photos of her grandfather who passed away that same day. Followed was a brief eulogy about how close she was to her gf, and the wonderful things he accomplished… concluded with “I miss you grandpa” and a handful of hashtags. The flood of likes and condollances publicly flooded in. The next morning she posts exercise videos of herself and comments about how slightly she was in her bed this morning, and how happy she is it’s Friday!!!! Hashtag hashtag. I thought it was a little… weird.

    I’m sure she was upset her gf passed away… but that she needed to take to social media for “support” was self serving. How would her gf feel that she was advertising his pics all over social media, did she ask his permission? Does her gf’s death need hashtags?? What is the purpose of the hashtags??? I thought it was quite disrespectful tbh.

    Not to say she had ill intentions, but the fact that she needed to exploit her gf (and others) to get cheap sympathy and “likes” to make her feel better at the moment shows her true character. Her way of grieving is an exposure of we true, selfish, self.

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