Why Does Facebook want me to be Friends with Dead People?

I had an odd experience first thing this morning. I clicked on my Facebook page and noticed that one of the suggestions for friends was somebody who I know is no longer with us – he died last year. I suspect that this type of thing happens a lot, but it is not a subject that I’ve heard other people talking about online. It got me thinking. Maybe there is a whole legion of dead people looking for friends on the Facebook and on the other social media sites; perhaps they are the ghosts of our technologically advanced age.

Lonely Ghosts Can be Upsetting

It could be quite upsetting to get a friend request from somebody you know has died. Of course, if you were really close you might have already added them as a friend, but what if you just signed up to one of these social media websites – would these ghosts come calling suggesting that you become a friend to them? How many pages on these sites belong to dead people; surely it must be in the millions by this stage.

I’ve visited the social media pages of dead people and must admit that it is a bit depressing. When you read their tweets or updates they are often full of plans for the future, but then one day it stops – no more updates. The same applies to us all; we will never know if that next update is going to be the last one.

Unfollowing the Dead

The events of this morning got me thinking about the protocol for dealing with dead people on the web. Should we unfollow them or stop being their friend on Facebook? Surely it would be a bit gloomy to discover one day that most of your social media pals were now ghosts – and if we live long enough then this day will almost certainly come.

But what about unfollowing these people; is it like saying they are no longer important to us? Some might even say that it’s a bit disrespectful. Is it not better that we keep their memory alive by leaving them there in our list of friends?

Does Facebook Offer Eternal Life?

In a way it is kind of comforting; the idea that a part of us will be there on the internet long after we are gone. Maybe people will still be able to read our social media ramblings hundreds of years into the future. What will they think of us? If we have one of those automatic twitter accounts we could still be sending people annoying spam even though everyone who knew us dead – wouldn’t that be a way to become an immortal?

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9 thoughts on “Why Does Facebook want me to be Friends with Dead People?

  1. i wonder how many dead people follow me?
    too bad they can’t retweet or reply
    what if you die and your aautoresponder keeps working?
    suggest friends for a dead person?

    i think i better stop now

    1. Hi Tom, I think it brings a whole new meaning to the idea of becoming more popular after you’re dead 🙂 I bet most of us will have at least a few followers who are no longer contributing.

  2. Paul that was funny but of course sad too. Perhaps we should let our departed friends live on in the world of hyper space.

    The post reminds me of several really sad stories I have read over the years where organisations like the tax people or local authorities have “contacted” the dead to demand money and the like.

    Perhaps an “online presence” would perpetuate this?
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  3. Hi Paul.

    I thought you’d left the spirits alone lol. I wonder if Elvis Presley is out there on facebook, after all he was spotted a few years ago working in a fish and chip shop in Barnsley.

  4. Paul, you always come up with interesting subjects 🙂

    I haven’t had dead friends pop up asking to friend me on Facebook but there is a FB trend that disturbs me. When a spouse or child of a FB friend dies, they sometimes use the dead person’s photo as their own for awhile.

    I realise that social media is creating a culture all its own, but this one I disagree with. I’m sad that their loved one is gone, sure, but don’t keep shoving the dead faces at me.

    Can you imagine if someone did that in real life? If they either wore a mask of the dead person’s face or kept showing a photo of the dead person to you?

    I feel their pain, but if it goes on too long I hide those friends from my timeline.
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    1. Social media is leading to all types of bizarre behaviour. There are even those who commit crimes and boast about it on their FB page; apparently a bank robber recently did this – he probably wonders how he got caught. I have seen forum members using a dead person’s picture as their avatar if one of their group passes away; it can be quite strange having all those people with the same picture of a dead person.

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