I had the idea for this post late on Tuesday night, but it took me a while to get it into shape. I’d love to read your thoughts on the subject, so feel free to leave a comment.
Thoughts on memorials in online communities
Whether we like it or not, for many of us the Internet has become a mainstay of our social lives. A generation has grown up having near constant instant access to social media, many of whom do not think twice about organising large gatherings and posting images of the results on Facebook.
What happens, though, when the Internet and life’s harsh realities collide? I am referring specifically to when an online friend dies. It seems that with the growth and near supremacy of the Internet in modern life, this vitally important issue has been largely overlooked.
Those who find themselves grieving the loss of an online friend for example in a game or forum community, are already in a compromised position as their loss is not often publicly acknowledged. The bereaved person can then feel that the loss is not worthy of grief, because they did not know the deceased personally.
Within close-knit forum and game communities members may come together to support one another through the loss initially. Even with the best of intentions, this arrangement is seldom permanent.
Game communities could be said to have an advantage over forum communities in terms of memorialisation, as ceremonies can be arranged and enacted in full within the realm of the game. If there is sufficient support and interest among members, a permanent memorial can be erected within the game universe, to provide a sense of the impact a member had.
In the future, forum communities could be encouraged to memorialize deceased members’ profiles, with a message such as ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ or similar, dependent on the focus of the group.
It is my hope that as the Internet continues to evolve, so too will a standard for virtual mourning, so that online friends can be remembered in a similar way to those we knew personally. Friendship is friendship, regardless of the medium.
Thank you for reading this article – I’d be interested to know what you think of memorializing within virtual communities. What is the best way? Please feel free to leave a comment.
Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,