The Facebook Reminder

Facebook kept sending me reminders yesterday. One of the downsides to digital communication is that for such sites you can turn notifications on or off but can’t be selective. I didn’t need this reminder.

It was a friend’s birthday, and Facebook wanted to be sure I remembered to write something on his timeline. After all, I did so last year.

I have mixed feelings about social media. I don’t spend much time there. But sites like Facebook do have their uses, especially when it comes to birthdays.

I used to be pretty good at remembering the birthdays of my friends. But as I age the memory isn’t what it used to be. And I have more friends.  In recent years though I haven’t usually asked people their birth date. My theory is, if they wanted me to know, it will be on their Facebook page, and Facebook will tell me, and I will acknowledge them on their big day. That’s the theory anyway. Sometimes though, even with multiple reminders, I don’t get around to posting birthday wishes. I feel kind of guilty about that, but when it comes down to it, friendship shouldn’t be defined by Facebook posts. And, as I said, I rarely visit the site.

Yesterday’s reminders (which actually started Sunday night) brought another aspect of social media to my attention, one I had read about but had no first-hand experience with until now.  It’s a modern problem, but I don’t know how Facebook and other similar sites can possibly come up with a workable solution. That makes it up to each of us to figure out.

Facebook wanted me to post birthday greetings to my friend’s timeline. I didn’t bother. Facebook knows his birth date; I also know his date of death. Facebook sent out reminder messages to 94 friends and family members that they really didn’t need to see yesterday. For some I am sure it was a bitter reminder of how much they miss a loved one. A couple of people did post birthday wishes acknowledging that he is no longer with us, which struck me as theologically interesting. Somehow, I don’t think people in Heaven are checking Facebook.

I know there are ways to preserve Facebook pages as a memorial, but from what I have read it is a time-consuming progress, and this death is still fairly recent, the family has not obviously not made this a priority. Understandably so.

Which has me thinking. I am careful about Internet Security. I don’t share my passwords. But perhaps I should have them written down somewhere, with a trusted friend or family member, so that someone can go in and shut down my social media accounts should I die unexpectedly. Post news of my demise to Facebook, send out an email and a tweet. Announce it on this blog. I should probably provide my email password too. And the one for my phone.

What I should do may not be what I will do. After all, if you are serious about security, you change your passwords several times a year. Which means your social media “executor” must be regularly updated. That sounds like work to me.

Still, it is something to think about.

As for me, I spent a portion of yesterday thinking about a friend taken from us too soon, someone who had a lot of flaws and at the same time managed to touch a lot of people for good. I didn’t need Facebook to remind me to remember him.

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