With the Millennial Generation, cell phones have replaced pagers, text messaging has retired the phone call and tweeting has made email essentially obsolete.
However, with the increased use of technology comes a dependency problem — something Millennials can’t seem to defeat, even when it comes to subjects as sensitive as death.
Death is perhaps humanity’s most jarring event as it can occur at any moment and without warning. Inevitably, we all are faced with the death of a loved one at some point.
And, once the reality of death sets in, the grieving process begins — and it’s different for everyone. But the Millennial solution to a traditional grieving process is especially heinous.
In the article “How We Mourn in the Age of Social Media,” Time magazine’s Lia Zneimer said mourning online gives people “access to an instant support system” as those who can’t attend a funeral or service can “send their condolences via text, email FaceTime or Skype.”
“We can view obituaries online and sign digital guestbooks,” Zneimer said. “Facebook pages of those who are no longer with us can serve as a tribute to a life taken too soon, uniting those who are mourning [and] providing them with a sense of community — and helping them feel connected to the person they lost.”
The only difference between journaling one’s personal woes or sending a private message to your dead loved one, and posting public messages to his or her social media profile, is anonymity.
Signing an electronic guestbook when one can’t attend a funeral or sending a condolence email to the mourning family is one thing, but there’s no need to publicly mourn. It’s something that should be done in private.
In addition, the Millennial idealism of constant connectivity can often prompt an unwanted influx of communication for the grieving person.
When my best friend recently died, I can’t begin to describe the kind of atypical treatment I received from those feigning concern when they really only wanted to press me for information regarding her death.
I’m not sure what kind of psychology is behind public mourning on social media or what causes people to intrude on the privacy of those in mourning, though I’ve noticed it’s especially prominent among younger Internet users and older adults who appear especially influenced by the Millennial lifestyle.
“That’s the thing about mourning in the age of social media: The deceased have the power to live on, but as the ones still living, there’s no Facebook status that can do justice to our loss, no 140-character tweet that can sum up our sadness and no Instagram filter that can soften the jagged edges of our pain,” Zneimer said.
There isn’t a right way to mourn, but there is certainly a wrong way to mourn.
It’s best to mourn in private. Posting on a dead person’s Facebook page is just another way of seeking electronic attention — and it’s disgusting.