Death Becomes Us . . . on Social Media


When it’s time to play my great deathbed scene on social media, it might just go something like this.

 

Scene: hushed hospital room, sole patient in bed, unconscious

Setting: darkened room, blinking lights and beeping equipment plugged into wall, and attached to patient (who appears to be in a deep coma)

(Off-camera: ACTION!)

Patient (stirring): Wait . . . Nurse! (fumbling) (muttering) Where’s that damn call button . . .

(Sound effect) Buzzing call button

Anonymous Voice (from wall speaker): Yes? What do you need?

Patient: I’m not ready to die just yet. I forgot to say good-bye to my 2,436 fans on Facebook, and let my 16,723 Twitter followers know to follow me on @lifesupport, and add my death to my LinkedIn career updates . . . and I didn’t have time to +1 my doctor on Google+ . . . .

(Off-camera: CUT!)

Let’s face it, none of this social sharing will actually matter when we’re on our deathbeds.

But while we’re alive . . . how much does it really matter? The questions I face whenever I’m on social media are probably no different than the ones that plague you:

1.  Why isn’t anyone commenting on my clever Facebook posts?
2.  Why hasn’t my latest insightful tweet been shared by anyone besides a bot?
3.  Who are these strangers lurking around my LinkedIn profile and what do they want?
4.  What does it take to get some damn +1s from my Google+ followers, anyway?
5.  Why don’t more people comment on my (clearly insightful) blog posts? 
6.  When will I actually benefit (ie, get rich) from any of this?

Why does that even matter? Sadly, it all seems such a priority now. But luckily, these questions aren’t the ones that will plague me long before I reach the end. And they’re certainly not the ones I’ll hear in my own head on my deathbed. The real questions I’d ask myself, if I were being really honest, would be:

1.  Why didn’t I take time to stop and smell the wildflowers?
2.  Who are these strangers hovering around and murmuring about being Facebook friends with me while I’m pretending to be unconscious?
3.  Where is everyone I really care about, anyway? 

Got any social media qualms or deathbed fears? Please share them here.

12 replies

  1. I am thinking the same things you are thinking….I had a friend who always said she was going to have her tombstone say, “I told you something was wrong.” And so now we have the chance to tell everyone when something is wrong, or right, or stuck in neutral, but does it really matter? I am strongly questioning all of it and where it is all going….as I sort of say in my most recent post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve actually seen that tombstone, in Rehobeth, Delaware. Obviously a sense of humor til the end. That would be my preference (as I indicate by my tongue-in-cheek post), but who knows where it all goes . . . and that’s for the best, too. Your recent post’s theme is a great echo of this. Thanks, as always, for some extra insights.

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  2. A very dear friend of ours died in 2011 and her Facebook page has been left up as a memorial. I look at it several times a year, most notably around her birthday, Christmas and time of death. At first I was creeped out, feeling voyeuristic/opportunistic, but over the years it has been a way to reconnect with her much like visiting a gravesite.

    Can we really have “live updates” while we are dying? Is “live streaming” more like “just in time” reporting? Perhaps Google Glass will be the saving grace in this conundrum.

    I like Woody Allen’s view of death the best: I’m not scared to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

    Your post speaks an often overlooked truth: All we have is the present moment, let’s make the most of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that the promise of social media–that we would all feel more “connected”–is turning out to be false hope. As evidence, I give you the fact that we have the phrase “Facebook friend” to distinguish it from a “real” friend.

    I don’t know if you saw my other comment about what a pain Twitter is turning out to be for me. So much for empowering the little guy.

    I guess that once the novelty wears off, the question will become–like telephones and cars–how do we use this technology to accomplish something meaningful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m finding the ability offered by social media to connect with my “community” to be its most valuable characteristic, and one that makes it worth putting up with its very real annoyances. Define community however you like to, and in my case, I’ve found people with creative interests to learn from, interact with, support and gain wisdom. I’ve found it quite valuable to sort through advice and news topics. I’m pretty comfortable with it, but I’m like the rest of us, exhausted by the many channels necessary to get these benefits.

      Twitter’s worked out fine for me, but not after a long while and various efforts and attempts. Sorry you’ve had trouble with it. I hope you’ll try again. And my passion for blogging is another fantastic avenue that’s supported and enhanced by social media.

      As for more meaning than all of that–not sure what that might be! But we can always hope. Nice to get your always thoughtful insights, Matthew, thanks.

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  4. I play the game of Facebook, and Twitter on an occasional basis. I have times when I’m really in to it, and other times where I’m fed up with it all. I find it crazy sometimes that I sit here and read for a long time (ok, hours) tweets and posts. And don’t even get me started on those idiotic Facebook “shares” of dumb cartoon cards/sayings; it seems everyone just copies quotes and other people’s stuff, and it goes round and round. It took awhile to not really care if anybody followed me, or was my Facebook friend. I need to pull the plug more often and read an actual book.

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    • Completely agree with your version of willingness to play on occasion with Facebook; it’s not something I’m even interested in now, though I have been in the past. I’m pretty focused on Twitter, which I enjoy a lot. But that’s because of the topics I can follow there, and my interest in what’s shared. So I’m pretty active there, with three different accounts (each has a different focus). I’ll be on the lookout for your tweets! Thanks for your comments. Reading a book and calling a friend are great antidotes to the love-hate social media response. 😀

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  5. We live an increasing amount of our lives on-line with social networks. Have you asked yourself the quesions: What’s to happen to my Facebook and Twitter accounts? What about my YouTube videos,

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  6. So maybe the answer to the questions posed above is to simply relax, unplug and hide the phone and tablet. Or if that’s too difficult maybe use the phone to actually reach out and talk to someone you miss or someone you have been thinking about lately.

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