When a Death App Comes to Facebook

Death and social often seem like opposing paradigms. At least, that’s how it feels on Facebook, where the death of a user is often awkward. So now, there’s an app for that. It’s Sanctri, and it’s Facebook’s memorial park.

Naturally, it can feel a bit pessimistic, but as a Facebook user, I have seen the passing of three friends and the posting of countless other deaths on Facebook. I have often wondered how it might look when more and more Facebook users approach that time of their lives when deaths are more common than pregnancy. How do families deal with users’ accounts when they die, and more importantly, how do you have that conversation in a meaningful, healing way?

There are many of us, myself included, that feel that Facebook and other online forums are not the best of places to have memorials, but as societies become more dependent on the internet’s ever growing grasp, it’s more likely that future generations will see a digital cemetery as normal rather than weird.  Digital connections are tenuous, but death is not. It is sad but also celebratory for some cultures to engage in stories and support in time of grief.

My personal hope is that a service such as Sanctri engages the types of users who are respectful, because if there’s one thing that’s preventing people from having meaningful conversations online, it’s trolls and their cynicism.


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