Sadly, the past week has given us all a lot to think about in terms of death with the passings of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. This has prompted an interesting article from Market Watch on how society observes death through the lens of social media, and what that says about etiquette. I recommend taking the time to read it here.
The gist of the article is that social networking has made death less of a taboo and sensitive topic. You may have heard of Williams’ tragic suicide while checking Facebook. On the one hand, it’s nice to see all the tributes to the actor that have been posted online. The flip side is that Internet trolls and bullies have also joined in. The comedian’s daughter, Zelda, quit Twitter after getting abuse from strangers.
A major breach of “death etiquette” is taking photos of the casket, checking in at the funeral home, and treating the death and funeral as you would a weekend getaway or concert. These are private matters and oversharing feels invasive and highly inappropriate. Focus on remembering your loved one, not updating your Facebook feed.
You should also refrain from posting messages that make it seem like someone has already died, when they haven’t. Referring to someone in the past tense is insensitive and can cause confusion. How would you feel if it was you?
Posting a photo of a loved one after they’ve died is appropriate. Beyond that, you’re better off sharing your memories and grief privately with those close to you, not online.