In recent years, whenever somebody dies in a notable or tragic manner, newspapers increasingly show a tendency to publish posts which have, post mortem, been added to their Facebook walls – the tributes and eulogies of the techno generation, so to speak. I find myself at a loss to see how this can possibly be considered to constitute news.
Is this lazy journalism, mere space filling (just a suggestion, you understand), or is the idea of its inclusion to show us that the friends and relatives of the deceased were a bunch of semi-literates who couldn’t even be bothered to write their farewell messages properly? “U will always b missed and we love u loads. U will never b forgotten.” “wishing yhuu was still hear.”
It is bad enough that people use this medium (which cannot communicate with the ‘other side’, incidentally, although many people post as though it might) and such thoroughly abysmal writing skills to pay their last disrespects but, to me, the inclusion of these posts diminishes from the impact of a news item and, moreover, actually acts to insult the memory of the deceased. Sometimes it almost appears as though people are trying to seem popular by association with someone who died in a spectacular manner. I find it ghoulish and more than a little disturbing.
Facebook is the playground of the inane and the insane. If you doubt me then go read for yourself. Yes, it grieves me to say, I have an account but, in my defence, I loathe and detest every single thing about it and the mere mention of its name makes my skin crawl in disgust and shame. Oh, and if anyone posts on my wall after my passing then I shall haunt them and whisper disturbing words in their ears while they sleep. I may even tell jokes. See if I don’t.
Incidentally, for a rather prescient view of social networking and the internet, you really ought to check out The Machine Stops by Edward Morgan Forster. Written in 1909, it describes a world in which every individual lives in isolation in a cell, communicating only through a machine which has become a virtual god in the minds of those who it has consumed. We’re living the dream, I tell you.