No Medals For Social Media Grief-Mongers

Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe writes on the penchant of many social media enthusiasts to initiate grieving sessions online without permission from the authentic mourners.

Social Media grief-mongering as a pastime / Photo credit: stuff.co.nz
Social Media grief-mongering as a pastime / Photo credit: stuff.co.nz
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Few days to the end of 2019 I logged on to Facebook and a friend’s fresh update caught my attention.

This friend was announcing the death of someone without mentioning the deceased’s name on their Facebook wall.

However, just reading a couple of words in the post was enough for me to decode who was dead; a friend’s older sister.

I called my friend to confirm immediately and just hearing her weepy voice as she answered the phone confirmed the story for me.

This happened less than 12 hours after death had struck.

While trying to process this sudden departure, I couldn’t but also wonder at the manner through which I discovered her death: from the Facebook post of a non-relative.

Not from my friend.

How many others, including those closely related to the deceased could also have found out about the death of a loved one in such a careless and thoughtless manner?

So, you wake up and suddenly your parent’s, uncle’s, sister’s or cousin’s Facebook or twitter page is covered with all colours of goodbye messages, including our own infamous and decrepit ‘RIP’ that probably means nothing to some of those writing it

Can you ever imagine how you would feel learning that you’ve lost a loved one from a random person’s social media post?

Some don’t just stop at announcing the death, they go all out and start sharing information concerning the deceased.

Sometimes, they share information that might even embarrass the family of the deceased just so they could prove to their social media friends that they know the departed better than the mother that brought them to this earth.

Others generally share photos of the deceased and if they’re photos taken off the social media platforms of the dead, then one would probably look away.

But no. They dig into their personal archives and share photos that perhaps even the deceased wouldn’t have so freely shared with the rest of the world.

Perhaps, someone should inform them that by sharing such photos, they are also infringing on the rights of the dead.

The rest in this boat bombard the social media pages of the deceased with farewell messages and all sorts of stories without finding out from a family member if everyone in the family had been informed.

So, you wake up and suddenly your uncle’s, sister’s or cousin’s Facebook or twitter page is covered with all colours of goodbye messages, including our own infamous and decrepit ‘RIP’ that probably means nothing to some of those writing it.

Many of us who do this don’t seem to realise that everything in life, including announcing people’s death, should be duly guided by some sort of etiquette.

And in this case, the key guide should be to follow the family’s cue. You don’t announce people’s death in whatever form, in any public platform before the family has done so.

Unless, of course, you’re the family’s spokesperson and they’ve given you the permission to do so.

Have you also asked yourself if the death was something the close relatives of the deceased would want the whole world to know about before deciding to use your time and data in this manner?

Timing in this case is also everything. It should matter to you whether the close relative are ready to deal with the emotions the often overwhelming social media mourning and sometimes, even insensitive comments your post would unleash.

The important thing here is that you should know your place and act accordingly.

And if truly you don’t know your place, there are indeed ways to find out.

For instance, ask yourself where your seat would be during the funeral ceremony; the front row or somewhere in the crowd?

You can also ask further if your name would ever appear in the obituary announcements or the funeral programme as one of the mourners.

You are still not sure?

Then ask yourself if you’re one of those who would be called by the officiating persons to pay their respects to the deceased at the graveside.

Have you also asked yourself if the death is something the close relatives of the deceased would want the whole world to know about before deciding to use your time and data in this manner?

However, if you would be one of those in the crowd, or even still in traffic on your way to the funeral while this solemn funeral tradition is ongoing, kindly restrain yourself and don’t be the one to announce the person’s death on your social media platforms.

Really, you don’t have to be unfortunate in this manner.

It’s called common sense and consideration for others and should be quite clear to everyone.

Unfortunately, however, in this age where everyone is competing for clicks online, common sense and all its attributes have been sacrificed thoughtlessly.

In this age where the online popularity contest is getting ever hotter and social media influencers seem to have become tin gods that followers worship, people are doing the even the unthinkable to garner and keep followers.

But some things should be off limits even in this case.

I believe death should be one of those.

It shouldn’t be a time to ruffle feathers because of one’s desperation for a name in a world that may not even exist in the next decade.

Written by Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe

Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe is the Editor of The Interview Abuja, has worked as a journalist in Punch Nigeria Nigeria Limited and also LEADERSHIP Newspapers where she rose to become the Editorial Director.

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