Mourning In The Digital Age: Social Media And Grief
Although the age-old rite of passage known as grief has been around since the dawn of humanity, the digital era has made it easier than ever to mourn from the comfort, (virtual) community, and convenience of a digital realm where, in modern times, we increasingly spend much of our time. But as with all digital innovations, there are both advantages and drawbacks to processing one’s sorrow online.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the potential pros and cons of mourning in the digital age.
Pros Of Mourning In The Digital Age
1. Keeping Memories Alive
Since social media platforms store our memories and past posts, after someone passes away, loved ones can easily navigate their page and appreciate memories they had together. Social media can also be a helpful information source to collect current memories of the deceased which can be kept to appreciate those memories in the distant future.
2. Global Connections
Social media and easy access to the internet allow us to mourn anytime, anywhere in the world. Mourning can include anything from clicking ‘like’ on a post to writing a long post dedicated to the deceased, with extended networks. You can easily contact family, friends and loved ones who are located far away and share with each other no matter the physical distance.
3. Connecting With Other Mourners
While it may not be easy to find appropriate kind words or feel understood in your grief, using social media as a channel to connect to other people who are mourning can provide emotional and physical comfort. When shared between multiple people, digital stories, photos, audio recordings, and videos can provide a global community of support and understanding.
4. Honoring The Deceased
Unfortunately, in the digital age, the memory of a beloved can persist long after they’re gone. Through asking for donations for a funeral service or creating a virtual memorial, social media can be used as a tool for grieving individuals to honor the deceased in a way that allows others to share in their memories and appreciate them as well.
Cons Of Mourning In The Digital Age
- Too Much Information
It can be shocking to stumble upon information about someone’s death on social media, rather than hearing the news from a reliable source. Unverified news stories and sensationalized posts can clog the timeline and overwhelm the mourner with the news of the death.
- Publicly Expressing Grief
Directly expressing one’s grief in public can be overwhelming to the griever and it may unleash a barrage of unwanted responses, as well as unwanted attention.
- Digital Presence
Lacking consent, individuals may be unable to prevent the dead from having a digital presence, which can be seen as an invasion of privacy of both the deceased and their mourners.
- Unresolved Grief
Without proper support, people can get trapped in a digital ripple of grief which can lead to an unresolved state of mourning.
The 21st century has given us access to a wealth of technological tools which can help people express their grief and celebrate the life of their loved ones. But it’s critical to remember that the most important part of the grieving process—deep facing our own feelings and emotions—cannot be found online. If used as part of a holistic approach to the grieving process which includes the guidance of a professional and traditional sun-in-real-life support, social media can be an effective tool for mourning in the digital age and keeping the memories of our loved ones alive.