When Social Media Needs Protocol

By | April 1, 2011

Today being April Fool’s Day a fellow speaker listed today as his birthday as a prank to pull on Facebook to see who would wish him a happy birthday and who really knew it was in a different month. For the last couple of years this has been a funny joke to John. As one person in the know best put it, “In a society that is a bowl of Cheerios, John you are a Froot Loop!”

Sadly, John passed away in December and his Facebook page is still up. Those who have him as a Facebook friend but not a real life friend are leaving cheerful birthday wishes which is unfortunate since they didn’t realize he is no longer with us. Yea, I found it sorta creepy, like actually being there at Weekend at Bernie’s  and knowing what is going on.

Those who know he is gone are still leaving birthday wishes hoping he is having the greatest party of all wherever he may be. Is this in honor of their friend? For the relatives of John?

This raises many questions about social media:

  • Do Facebook pages of the deceased become pages in honor of fallen friends? (Pretty cool idea I think)
  • How many “friends” in social media are actually contacts, connections, admirers, lurkers, or friend collectors who really don’t know their friends?
  • How many on your Facebook friends list “know” you as a real friend?
  • What is the social media definition of “friend?”
  • When a person dies, what happens to social media profiles, blogs, websites, and information available on the internet?
  • We have birthdates on Facebook, should there be a death date as well for those who have passed?

I think these are but a few questions created about how social media is redirecting the habits of society and what new societal protocols will be. And finally, to John; listing a fake birthday on April 1st is genius even when done posthumously.

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