Sometimes I look up dead people on Facebook. Not, say, Thomas Edison or Washington Irving or George Washington Carver. If they had Facebook, I wouldnât be hereâ but thatâs a different story.
But maybe Iâm watching the six oâclock news and thereâs a story on how Randy Rappelstein, a junior at Rutgers, crashed his RAV-4 into a lightpole. Hop on over to Facebook, type in Randyâs name, and boom: a picture of him at his Sig Ep formal with his date cropped out. A remnant of his life when death seemed an abstract possibility.
Itâs a creepy habit of mine, yes, but the Facebook has emerged as a virtual graveyard for such real – life situations, and itâs hard not to pay attention to the amount of dead matter on the site.
In many ways, it has become a digital ecosystem, equally supporting life and death without erasing proof of either. In the past, the site would normally remove profiles of the deceased one or two months after their death. But more and more Facebook users had expressed a desire for the profiles of the dead to stay alive, and in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, Facebook changed its policy to allow for perpetual virtual memorials. Myspace, on the other hand, has a separate website for the profiles of the passed, called MyDeathSpace.
Providing I donât become entangled in any RAV-4 disasters, I plan to live until 80 or 90 and often wonder what will happen to my little Facebook page along the way.
Will I be tethered to this intangible thing until Iâm at deathâs door? Will I be writing on my friendsâ walls until Iâm blinded by cataracts? Will I have to join a virtual nursing home group?
I can see it now: âI live in a public nursing home that might as well be a private nursing home.â?
And then what?