Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Gone But Still Alive Online

Yesterday, I went on LinkedIn, and saw a request to celebrate someone's work anniversary.  There was only one problem - that someone had died in May after a short illness. I don't know if it was COVID-19 related but it really doesn't matter.  I was her friend "IRL" (in real life) and on Facebook and that's how I knew she had passed.  In fact, I found out via a message her sister had posted.

From reading several posts, I quickly realized some of the people who had wished her a happy anniversary had no idea that she (let's call her "X") was no longer around to read their congratulations.  Her employer had posted a "We miss you, X" message but I have a feeling, due to privacy concerns, they could not reveal that "X" was deceased.

In December of 2012 I blogged the below.  Some things don't change.  The post follows, with some edits.

"When I came home from work tonight, I found a post on Facebook from a cousin who graduated from a local college last year.  She was mourning the death of a fellow classmate.    In other words, my cousin was announcing the death of someone who died - as we older people like to say - too soon.

I don't know how this young woman died, but a quick look online revealed two things.

First, I was a third degree connection of hers on LinkedIn.  The person linking us used to work with me and now works at the college she intended.

Second, my cousin was her friend on Facebook, meaning she was a friend of a friend of mine.

Because of these connections, I was able to see her picture on LinkedIn, and was able to view her timeline on Facebook. (Least this sound creepy, I didn't linger long- I just wanted to know something about this person who meant something to one of my cousins and who was linked to me through social media.) Meantime, her college has organized a candlelight vigil for her in physical life.

I can mourn the untimely passing of someone I never knew thanks to social media.

When I graduated from high school, many of those in my graduating class went on to college.  Two members of my class died within a year, both on the same weekend, in unrelated car accidents.

I didn't find out about this (because I didn't know either individual) for many years later. I went to an urban high school in New York City, and there were a lot of people in my graduating class.

Now, we know something like this in hours."

In a way, "Q" will live forever through her social networking accounts. But it may not be the way she wanted.

It (again) made me think what I should do about my own accounts.  Facebook does provide a way to appoint a "legacy contact". 

For LinkedIn, it is more complex, and your contact might actually have to violate their terms of service, which seems ridiculous.

Have you made these plans?


  1. ...all of this social media stuff has never interested me. I'll just live in my cave!!!

  2. No, I have not made plans. I'll put it on the to-do list. But, since I have over 17,000 DNA matches, I have tried reaching out to closer relatives. When I do not hear from someone, I use Google and have found that some of these folks have actually died, although Ancestry shows that they have an account. Another account along with my blog to think about.

  3. My friend Lily passed away after a long, hard battle with diabetes and cancer. Her daughter did not convert Lily's account to a legacy account.

    It was very disconcerting to see one of Lily's closest friends celebrate his Facebook friendship with Lily last week. I know he meant it as a memorial, but it looked and felt awkward.

  4. I actually follow someone on FB and on Instagram who I know passed away. The accounts remain but are inactive and I cannot bring myself to unfollow, it somehow feels like there's still a connection.

  5. Isn't it a strange world we live in? In my parent's day, we planned (and celebrated) with the people in our direct circle and then extended through our home town. Now we plan for people around the world. I think it's awesome. But still strange...

  6. I haven't. I probably should do that at some point. I gave this info to my roommate whose brother passed away a couple years ago. She had his password, so she had access to his FB account. She decided not to convert it to a legacy account, but that only works if someone has full access.


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