Monday, 31 October 2011

Why I had to unfriend Steve.

OK, this might be a weird one. But it is Halloween, after all. A tad of spookiness is totally allowed and even to be expected. 

So, as you know, I was told that my magazine editor died a few days ago. It was pretty shocking. But, somehow, it was even more shocking and more difficult to believe because the Steve I knew was a virtual person, so to speak. I was told he was dead and yet, I could see his emails in my in-box and a part of me kept expecting another one to pop up on my screen. 

I shared the news of Steve’s death with a fellow blogger; and the next day, she messaged me on Facebook. 

‘It might sound crazy...’, she said, 'but is he really dead? Because I got a notification that he just shared some article on his partner’s wall???!  What if we got it wrong, what if he is still alive?’ 

And even though I knew for a fact that he was not, the question did not seem that crazy to me, somehow. When you know someone only by email and Facebook; it  feels they are still around. In a spooky kind of way.

Following the message, I looked at Steve’s wall; and, surely enough, there he was. With two recent activities. Alright-one was quite understandable- someone accepted his friend request. Accepted it  too late, not knowing the person was no longer alive. But another one was an article from the Guardian, shared, as claimed by facebook, by Steve himself.  Recent activity. Hours ago. 

Hours ago? The man has been dead for days.

Today, friends shared the news on his page, RIP messages started appearing...

It made me think about the virtual lives we live online. If you have a facebook page, a twitter account or a blog, how long before your friends and followers realize you are gone forever? How long will Steve live online?  What happens to our virtual selves when the real ones suddenly pass away? 

Looking through Steve’s recently tagged photos and activities made me feel uncomfortable. A little circle next to his name read Steve is unavailable. Of course, he is unavailable. He is dead. 

I scrolled to ‘Unfriend’. RIP, Steve. Someone has to close your FB  page.


  1. More than once I've thought: who will notify those whose blogs I read if my soul decides to rest in peace? What about not replied e-mails?

  2. Sometimes i wonder what will happen to my fb and blog when i die..I'll get my friend to update my status...

    But yes internet can keep someone around for a long time, it may be someone like Steve who unfortunately passed away, or someone who walked out of your life by choice.

    Funny i was just thinking, things just never go away...they linger somewhere in a dark corner while we try to ignore them.

  3. I've read a very good suggestion about it (case when blogger dies): write your last post to say everyone your last farewell and ask them to consider your site/blog/facebook page as an archive... Ask your relatives to publish it if something happens or just put this post in a schedule and remember to move it every couple months or so...

  4. @ Kyle and Svet: With my current state of brain
    (i.e. non-functioning!) and the lack of memory (both short and long term) it will be crazy, as I will keep forgetting it is scheduled; and keep "dying". Until nobody will believe it when it happens. Like the boy who cried wolf. :-) It is just a bit freaky, this whole internet persona thing, when I think about it. It is like watching someone on a video when they are gone. I cant explain what I am trying to say that well, can I.