My friend forwarded me this link a few days ago and my jaw pretty much fell on the concrete floor. The first question that came to mind—ARE THEY FOR REAL?
Apparently, Facebook is planning on launching memorial profiles for deceased users. In my experience, it’s a bit awkward when someone dies and his/her Facebook profile continues existing. There’s something creepy about it. It happened once when I was in college—a student died crossing a busy highway next to my alma mater, The University of Miami. There were protests for the next few days near that highway, begging the county to put in another stoplight and crosswalk combo near campus. But what made it so awkward, was that her Facebook profile was still alive and kicking. People were still writing on her wall and her smiley, outgoing profile pic still blankly stared back at you.
It was weird.
I have mixed feelings about creating memorial profiles for deceased Facebook users. The slightly judgmental, uptight part of me thinks this whole thing is not only bizarre—it’s also immensely disrespectful. Saying you care for someone by taking four seconds to create a free Facebook account for a lost loved one is almost offensive. Of all the ways to show reverence for a lost loved one (i.e. creating foundations, raising money, having memorial services), you REALLY chose to create a Facebook profile? It hardly reflects the intensity of losing a loved one.
But then I thought about it a bit longer.
Maybe, just maybe—despite its inherent creepiness—this is a good idea. Facebook is a public forum and perhaps offering ALL loved ones of the deceased a place to share and mourn together is actually healthy. Long distance friends and relatives could offer sympathies and still feel included in the mourning process. Also, the profile would always exist, so even after a bit of time has passed, joint friends could still reminisce about their shared friend. On top of that, Facebook could then remove the deceased’s personal profile, removing personal information that could no longer be deleted or updated, thus letting the departed user rest in cyber-peace too.
So what does everyone think? Is this whole thing ridiculously offensive or reassuringly thoughtful? Would you want someone to post a Memorial Profile of you?