On July 25 I was prepared. I wasn’t sure what time the notification would come, but I knew at some point during the day I would look at my cell phone, my iPad, my BabyVaio and every one of them would trumpet the news: today is Jessica DeDeo’s birthday. Join Facebook and it’s inevitable: on your “friend’s” birthday, you will receive email notification. Sign on to Facebook and you will get notification. Even if that friend is dead, for the rest of your life and beyond–unless Facebook finds a way to fix it–you will receive notification. Know what else you’ll receive? Suggestions that you should become friends with someone who just may be dead. Suggestions you should go see a movie because your dead friend recommends it. Both happened to me. Know what else keeps randomly popping up on my page that I didn’t ask for? Memories of what I was doing last year at this time. Pictures and reminders of places where I checked in. So next June I suppose I can look forward to seeing I spent some time in Hershey at the hospital visiting my dying loved one. Remember that? Wasn’t it fabulous?
Why hasn’t Facebook found a way to deal with death? If the person who is left to settle our affairs when we leave this world can close out our bank accounts and pay our bills and cancel our memberships and turn off our utilities, why can’t there be a way to notify Facebook that the account is no longer owned by a living person? And I don’t mean taking it down, either. I’m sure there’s a way to do that. But just switching a person’s status. We can let people know we’re married. In a relationship. But we can’t tell anyone we’re dead? Don’t ask to friend me; I’m dead. Jessica has a page called “DeDancin’ With DeDeo.” Please, check it out if you haven’t, it’ll sure make you feel good, but for anyone who’s never had a page other than their personal one, Facebook notifies you when you haven’t posted on your page in a while. They send an email that looks something like this: “Jessica, you haven’t posted in a while. Your fans are looking to hear from you.” Well keep looking fans, because Jessica’s doing the moonwalk on the big dance floor in the sky. Why hasn’t Facebook yet figured out a way to deal with all that? Why can’t we notify Facebook of a person’s passing so that they’ll stop acting on that person’s behalf? Stop suggesting them as friends and mentioning them in advertisements disguised as helpful hints? When October rolls around, do I need to see that last year I was at a hockey game with Jess? When I like something, do I need Facebook to tell me Jess likes it too? Do I need Facebook to suggest I be a friend with someone because Jess was their friend, too? I want to look at Jess’ face and explore her page in my own time, at my own pace. Some days I feel like I can handle it; some days I know I can’t. Facebook, please stop taking that choice away from me.
Jessica lived. She was here. She loved, she made friends, she was constantly updating and communicating through social media. None of us who were touched by her want to forget that. We still mention her, and post on her page. Jess is my fourth Facebook friend to have passed on. When I look at the pages of those other friends, I can connect with their loved ones feeling the loss. We’re all posting, all sharing, all crying, all missing terribly, all joined together in the hope that things get better, happiness follows, and there is comfort in knowing we are not alone, even in our most heart-ripping moments. It’s nice to know that I’m not losing my mind in posting on someone’s page who will never read my message: everyone does it. So I’m not looking to get rid of someone’s page just because the physical person is not here. That would be like clearing the shelves of books from dead authors, or taking dead actors’ movies out of rotation. That is their legacy. So maybe that’s what Facebook should do: have Facebook Legacy. When you die, you get Legacy status. Your page is now a tribute to you and those who loved you. That should be the last notification we all get from Facebook regarding a friend’s status: “Jessica DeDeo has reached Legacy status. Please share on her page your best memory.”
Damn, I just saw in my second paragraph I wrote “Jessica has a page called DeDancin’ With DeDeo.” I suppose it would be proper to say had. Guess I need a notification button of my own.