Un-multi-tasking

Condolences

I have been thinking lately about the issue of appropriateness and Facebook. And I am stuck.

Two days ago my husband's aunt in Florida passed away. She was living alone in Florida with a son in NYC and one in Florida. Neither son was really in touch with her old family friends or even knew the names of her current friends. Facebook- come to the rescue. I think. Or maybe not.

One of her sons was able to reach out to many people who knew her and relay her death by accessing her Facebook account. He also used the page to post updates on the funeral time and place. Within hours her page was filled with messages from friends who wrote lovely messages to the deceased.

And truthfully, I am conflicted. And I may not be alone.

Demographics: most of the people on her site were at least 60+ in age- perhaps older. She was conservatively in her middle 70's and a fairly new Facebook user.

All of the people leaving messages were older.

When I queried my daughter- age 21 about leaving a condolence message on a Facebook page she was horrified, as was several of some other people I reached out to. Most of them young- and most of them very internet-saavy.

One of my staff said she was very aware of Facebook memorial pages that are set up by family members as a kind of lifelong memorial- eternally I suppose. In one case she noted that over 3000 people friended a memorial page for one of her friends who passed away- and they had to make a fan page out of it.

So on one hand, it is a great way to let lots of people know about a death in the family. And it is probably an easy way for people to send their condolences. But truthfully it reminds me of the Facebook birthday barrages- where it is easy for people who hardly know you any more to send you their best wishes. But at least in my case, a dozen of those casual greetings does not match up to one, thoughtfully picked out card, doesn't have to be Hallmark.... that someone thinks about and takes time to send. And I wonder, to the family, how many of those Facebook messages will equal one Condolence card with a personal story or wish enclosed.

So I remain with feet firmly planted in two worlds.... not knowing which way to go.