Online Memorials

Danah Boyd, over at Apophenia, comments on an emerging phenomenon: the use of social networking services to act as sites for mourning and remembrance. What struck me about the example she uses (the online social profiles of Christine Dao, who has just died in a car crash), was the tone and the manner of Christine’s friends when leaving their messages of remembrance on her profiles. Not that they addressed her directly, as though she still lived – that’s a fairly common thing – but the casual, almost flippant, tone of most of the messages. These are young adults, for the most part (Christine was 20), but the comments seem to me like the equivalent of children’s finger-paintings. Are young adults really this immature these days?

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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2 Responses to Online Memorials

  1. laura says:

    The comments made on Christine’s profile by her friends and family are made in the manner in which she communicated with them.  Just because someone is no longer physically with us, doesn’t change who they were, so why change the way we communicate with them?  She may have said a lot of silly things (things you may equate with a child’s finger-painting) but she spoke from her heart, and her friends responded in the same way.  Please don’t judge her, her friends, or young adults as a whole, for that matter.  They’re not on her page to write a gramatically correct essay, they’re speaking from their hearts.

  2. Geoff says:

    Lo, thanks for your comment. I’m not judging Christine at all – as I said I was responding to the manner in which her friends reacted to her death, and I found the manner of response surprisingly immature for young adults. I wasn’t asking for grammatically correct essays. But I was somewhat taken aback by the fact that the responses seemed to me to be at an emotional level that I would more readily associate with 10 year-olds, not, as I say, young adults. 

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