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.