The death of an individual, especially if they are close at heart, can spark a wave of both anger and sadness simultaneously. However, nothing enrages me more than scrolling through my Facebook or Instagram newsfeeds and seeing posts along the lines of “Like this post if you cared about Random Dead Person, Rest In Peace” or “Share this picture if you knew Random Dead Person, RIP”. This especially angers me if the person creating such a post did not even know the individual who had just passed away.
As an aside, let me be extremely clear that I am not suggesting that making announcements over social media that the passing of a person such as a family member is entirely wrong. In fact, it can be therapeutic to let friends and other relatives know that someone close to you has died, so that they can comfort you. I have several relatives post on mediums such as Facebook that they have lost someone important in their lives, ranging from a husband, their kids, or even their beloved pets that they have had for so long; I know for a fact that seeing comments that share fond memories of interactions with these people or just messages of support can brighten a person’s day immensely. Furthermore, by posting photos of your loved ones, you can immortalize them in the digital world and cherish the happy times that you shared with these individuals. However, what I do not appreciate is when people use death to try calling attention to themselves.
If you really take a close look at these posts— exactly what are these people trying to achieve by “recognizing” that a person has just died by asking for “likes” or “shares”? It is not as though they are writing a thoughtful post filled with happy anecdotes of how much fun they had interacting with this person; rather, they are looking for attention and an acknowledgment of some sort for being so “empathetic”. If the poster in question had virtually no relation at all to the individual who had passed away, that makes the matter even worse because it is just sickening to see someone take advantage of an awful event like that.
Death is not something to be celebrated or used to garner attention. We can look back on the memories that we had with the recently departed and laugh and smile in nostalgia, but using a tragic event to lift one’s self up in public is just deplorable. Whatever empathy a poster is trying to show off by making such remarks over the Internet is absolutely insincere and should be rebuked by all who view such material.
AboutThis blog is a platform of communication for a college course at Emory entitled "The Anthropology of Death and Burial". The purpose is to use this blog to invite the world into our classroom by drawing on current events or phenomena that surround us and that are relevant to our exploration into the topic of death and how people deal with it. The course is explicitly cross-disciplinary and besides anthropology we also explore the topic of death through the lens of biology, history, religious studies, medicine, law, philosophy, sociology, literature and art. Feel welcome to explore and participate!
Who we areThe contributors to this blog are all undergraduate students at Emory University in Atlanta GA (USA). The course is taught by Dr. Liv Nilsson Stutz who is an archaeologists with a special interest in mortuary archaeology and ritual studies. She is also a regular contributor.
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