Cultural Differences: Death and Social Media
A dear friend from high school passed away suddenly this week while he was traveling and teaching in Cambodia and Thailand. He was the type of person who lived in the fast-lane and liked to take risks so in some ways it wasn’t entirely a surprise. However, it is sad in that he had just embarked on a cross cultural adventure in Southeast Asia. Developing cultural agility in his therapy practice as well as for his professorship in psychology at Montana State. In a way, you could say, he was initiating his own global expansion in cultural diversity.
What I found oddly disturbing is his Facebook page has remained the same. Everything is in tack, his photo doesn’t change and his posts just stopped. Many, many friends are writing on his wall, expressing sadness and saying goodbye. From a communication perspective, this feels strange for me. Maybe it’s my cultural background? I don’t like that he can no longer monitor or control his wall, that he is memorialized without his knowing. I wish Facebook would take the site down, but I guess there are many different opinions about this and perhaps it isn’t fair to those who want to say goodbye… I guess its the virtual leaving of flowers and food. Sitting Shiva on-line, or having a global memorial service on the internet. For me, culturally it feels funny. But I guess this is the times we live in now.
I wonder what other cultures think about it? Has anyone discussed it across cultures? Is there a global best practice for social media in the case of death?