By Robin Peterson
What happens to our loved ones when they’re gone? Do they go to heaven or hell? And, what happens to their social media profiles when they can no longer take a selfie? Do they go into a void of lost and deactivated Facebook profiles?
The answer, similar to the answer to what happens after death, is up to interpretation. Some profiles do indeed just hang around in cyberspace, never changing, and become inactive profiles. Other Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr profiles are taken over by the family and friends of the deceased.
Some think there could be serious psychological ramifications to maintaining a loved one’s social media profile for an extended period of time.
“It’s kind of like if Jesus had a blog and posted every day,” senior Sarah Lovick said. “It’s something you want to be true, and if you can make it happen through any means, you would, but it just would never happen.”
However, keeping the memory of a loved one alive through social media helps other people understand what the bereaved is going through. The custom of keeping mementos of the deceased is not unusual, and has taken many forms over the years.
Saving remembrances of loved ones goes back as far as the Victorian era, when people would take lithographs (like photos) of the dead or cut locks of their hair and put them in lockets. In fact, long before the invention of the Internet it was common to take locks of a loved one’s hair and place them in necklaces and pins. Even now, we all keep pictures and mementos of people.
“There’s people who keep their loved ones’ ashes, so that’s not weird,” sophomore Amanda Estep said.
And this is the important part of the message, because while, to people who are not in the process of grieving, it may seem weird, it really is all a natural part of the grieving process. People need to process the passing of their loved ones. As long as they are doing it in healthy and rational ways, it’s normal to seek out an understanding and peace when someone close to us moves on. Everyone processes death and dying in different ways. This particular way helps the bereaved keep a sort of tangible link to the deceased person alive, in a very permanent way.