Monday, May 15, 2006

Death online

"[W]hile few, if any, British news sources have covered the story, tens of thousands of British web users know about Anna. But the case also brings up some moral dilemmas. Should we be intruding on someone else's grief, even if we have been invited to? And in circulating the story of Anna's death, are we treating her with the same triviality we would afford to a funny forwarded email?"

Grief, sympathy and voyeurism online in today's Guardian.


Alana Baranick said...

I read only a little bit of the myspace "tributes." I am surprised by the notes from Anna's presumably young acquaintances and never-mets that are written not ABOUT her, but TO her.

I'm familiar with what my paper calls "In Memoriams" in which loved ones, still grieving after a long period of time apparently, pay for classified ads - and sometimes display ads - written in the first person like letters to the deceased and published on the anniversary of the person's death, birthday or some special holiday. "We miss you. How are things in heaven? Happy birthday."

Although the revenue reaped from such ads helps pay for my salary in the long run, I often chuckle at such ads. It's as though the folks who placed the ads think that the deceased is reading the newspaper.

I have come to realize, however, that such ads are the equivalent of visiting a grave and speaking to the headstone. "Little Jimmy is in high school now. Your sister married a doctor. I still miss you."

Same goes for the myspace "In Memoriams" to sincerely dead Anna.

People are moved. They want to express that. So they add a comment. Sort of like adding a comment to this blog item.

Amy said...

I wish that the revenue from such "in memoriam" paid obituaries funded my salary, but my employer runs these at cost (paper, labor, etc.) The newspaper makes no profit on them. Our publisher, God love him, believes this is a community service. As a result of the low cost of these ads, the newspaper runs dozens of huge ones, taking up as many as three pages, each Sunday ...