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Facebook and Reality Don’t Always Play Well Together

Picture of Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
August 18, 2011

Not too long ago I was speaking to a group about automating social media. I mentioned that I post to Twitter with socialoomph.com, and that Twitter feeds Facebook and LinkedIn. I also schedule newsletters in advance, as well as some blog posts.

My humorous line was that, if I died, no one would know it for a month.

That was on a Friday. Monday, my friend Jim Locke passed away. I found out about it Tuesday morning. Monica had been at my presentation and emailed me a note that someone should make sure his feeds are stopped.

My own Facebook wall is an embarrassing collection of news and chat that mixes up the sad news with everyday posts. I put up a heartfelt note about Jim, and less than half an hour later an automated promotion for a podcast was posted. Then someone popped in and posted an interesting news article link about the Myth of Multitasking. Then an automated “Relax Focus Succeed” meditative thought for the day posted.

I will never forget the day my father died. I was in Michigan (he lived in Washington State) in grad school. I remember wandering around the campus overwhelmed with sorrow. And I thought to myself “Don’t these people know that everything’s changed? Don’t they know the world is different?”

But they didn’t know. The world keeps turning. Life keeps going for the living.

Facebook is a wonderful combination of personal and professional. A mix of friends, associates, business connections, and strangers. It’s a big, buzzing, busy world of thoughts and pictures and videos.

It’s really a lot like life.

And sometimes there’s great sorrow.

It’s an interesting thing that Facebook keeps on chugging away, even in times of great sorrow.

No disrespect is intended. But there’s a strange kind of “in your face” feel to it.

My friend Kari Hagensmith wrote a book called The Girlfriend Will. It gives advice from one woman to another about all the things that need to be taken care of on the personal side when you die. It is somewhat light hearted, but also very thoughtful.

You want to close down the social media accounts. But you also want someone to clean out your computer history, certain drawers, and boxes around the house. The online component is only part of it. But as technology marches on, the online component will become more and more of what we need to tend to when someone passes away.

I am sad for my friend Jim. But he will be remembered in large part for being a driving force in creating communities – online and off. So managing his online presence upon his passing makes perfect sense.


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