Social media has become an essential part of our lives. Over the last few years, you’ve probably noticed more and more people taking to an online platform to express grief or sadness about losing someone close to them.
Expressing grief through social media gives us many opportunities to say ‘goodbye’ and farewell loved ones with heart-felt messages or videos. Unfortunately, it can be very easy for posts to be taken the wrong way or interpreted differently from users’ intentions. So, what is the best way to be respectful while paying your respects online? Below are a few tips to help you apply appropriate etiquette on social media following a death.
Respect the Family
Information posted on social media spreads extremely fast, which can be a negative effect of expressing your grief too quickly or without family consent. Giving the family time to let other people know, or to post online themselves, stops any negative impacts resulting from you paying respects. The cardinal rule for posting online is always respect the family’s wishes and don’t post anything until you are sure those closest to the deceased are informed of events.
Keep Content in Mind & Consider Who Might See Your Posts
We all grieve in different ways, it’s human nature. However, it’s important to keep what you post online in mind and understand not everyone may not think the same as you.
When considering what to post, think about your relationship with the person. If you didn’t have a deep relationship, it might be best to stick with a simple comment expressing your grief or short memory you shared. If you shared a stronger relationship with the person, consider the person’s personality and values. What would they think about your social media post? Is it in line with the way they thought or interacted with you? Sharing messages and memories of remembrance on the person’s Facebook page is also another way to pay your respects. These are often thought of as community spaces where people can collectively grieve, however it’s also important to consider how your content could be interpreted or who it will be seen by.
As mentioned above, we all grieve differently, especially online. Without the ability to hear expression or emotion, social media posts have the possibility of being taken the wrong way and impact others differently. You may think you are being respectful in celebrating a life however, you could upset a family member or friend who has mis-interpreted your post or spark sad emotions of those still grieving. To maintain etiquette, try and keep ‘I miss you’ posts to a minimum. This avoids reigniting emotions for family members when they read through condolence messages. Another way to avoid upsetting others is not to constantly tag the person on social media. You may have the urge to tag them like you would have in the past, however seeing your tag may make it hard for grieving family or friends.
How Facebook Helps Us Pay Respects
Facebook have recently made some major changes to how we can honour and remember people on the social media platform. In recent months, Facebook have created a ‘Tribute Section’ which allows users to post on a separate tab, helping people grieve and remember their loved ones without affecting the original timeline of the person’s account. Find out more information about how Facebook has changed the way we grieve online, in a recent blog article from What’s Your Grief.