Thoughts on memorialization in online communities


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,

blog signature - 'Casey B'

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About Casey Bottono

I am in love with language. I write poetry and fiction in a wide variety of genres. Most recently, I have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities' Pen2Paper contest.
This entry was posted in cyberloss, tribute and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Thoughts on memorialization in online communities

  1. I think it’s so important to bring others together who shared a friendship with the deceased so they can grieve together and offer comfort to the family. The only way I can see doing that on Facebook is if the surviving family members create a page and invite all their loved one’s friends to “like” it and begin the conversation. What do you think, Casey?
    Oh, and so glad Melissa tagged that article for you. Was that timely, or what? 🙂
    Blessings, my friend!

    • Casey B says:

      I agree. It’s vital that people who had any kind of relationship with the deceased can interact with one another. I read an excellent article a few months ago from a professor at the University of Bath in England, who described the process of mourning as creating a new ‘shared reality’ around the deceased. I’m not sure whether Facebook would be the right platform, as it’s so open to abuse, but that would certainly be a start. The only reason I joined Facebook initially was because a friend of Chris’ wanted to share some pictures with me. I think it’s unfortunate that none of the usual rituals or platforms seem to be ‘available to those who’ve lost online friends, but that’s another post entirely. Sorry to have written an essay in response to your very thoughtful comment. I loved that post- and Melissa’s tagging me was wonderful. Synchronicity indeed.

      Take care, and have a blessed day.

      Casey

      • Not too long at all, Casey. 🙂
        You know, if the friend you are mourning is in a group already, like Blogplicity, it does make it easier to begin and continue conversations. I do know that there is a site called Caring Bridge where people can give encouragement to others who are very ill and, if I remember correctly, people can set up a remembrance page for deceased loved ones. Still, that doesn’t offer the opportunity to spontaneously interact.
        Just keep putting your ideas out there. Someone much more tech savvy than I is sure to have an idea.
        Don’t give up!

  2. I think it’s a great idea Casey. When one online friend died, although everybody was so concerned and would like to pay a tribute, they did so separately. I think it’s a good idea to have just one page or a platform where everybody could write eulogy, pay respect to and share their grief with the family of the deceased…

    Lots of love :* The Spirit is one 🙂

    • Casey B says:

      I would have dreamed of such a thing when Chris passed away. The problem lies in the fact that many online communities are very quick to move on after a community bereavement, as if the community wasn’t really affected. That seems shallow to me, although I recognise it’s another way of coping. One day, I hope such a thing will exist.

      Take care,

      Casey

  3. nikky44 says:

    I love the idea. I think it helps a lot the family and friends. They can all share the memories. It might be painful sometimes, but its always a place where love is the winner

I love it when you share your thoughts- so feel free.

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