Netiquette: Is It Okay To Tell People Someone Died In A Facebook Post?
Patrick over at Popehat relates the story of how he was advised of the death of a family member thanks to a posting on a relative’s Facebook page, and asks:
I didn’t like learning about this death on Facebook. I didn’t like knowing about it hours before my wife knew about it. I didn’t like knowing about it before my mother-in-law, his daughter, knew about it. I’m quite conversant with the internet for my age, having used it since the 1980s, but learning of a family death through Facebook seems wrong. Almost as wrong as learning of it through email.
There are some communications, it seems, that are best handled in person, or by telephone, by voice if they can’t be said in person. I may be an irrational curmudgeon to think so, but it would never occur to me to post a tribute to my grandmother on Facebook if I weren’t absolutely certain that all of my relatives, some of whom are Facebook friends, already knew about it.
Am I alone in feeling this way?
I’ll through this one open to the readership, but I’ve got to say that I’m with Patrick on this one, and I think it’s because of a subject matter.
Over the past few years I’ve earned of several occasions — births, engagements, promotions, a new house — through email, or a text message, or post on someone’s Facebook page. In most cases, the most common way I’m likely to say “Happy Birthday” to someone I don’t deal with in person on a regular basis is through a message on their Facebook wall. And all of that seems fine to me.
Finding out that a close relative died through such an impersonal means of communication just strikes me as, well, wrong. I’d feel the same way, I think, if the news came via a voice mail message — “Hey sorry I missed you but Grandpa’s dead.” Perhaps it’s just human nature to want to have some kind of person-to-person contact when bad news is delivered, perhaps it’s just a relic of the pre-wired era. As long as I live, though, I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever find to be quite right.