what happens to your accounts and online existence when you die?
It seems a morbid subject to research, but over the past few years Facebook has become a huge part of daily life for many, from reconnecting with old friends, the convenience of instant messaging, prolific photo sharing to even organizing classes and work.
I have always found the common social media formalities to be unnatural, for example filling the profile of whom ever’s birthday it happens to be that day with brisk depersonalised messages, some it seems to just retain their own digital presence. But the strangest occurrence to me is the convention of an online death from the announcement to the impromptu obituary as the news spreads over peoples feeds.
Just as social media birthday etiquette occurs; as a Facebook friend passes away their profile’s timeline is inundated with detached, impersonal posts among the emotional messages from the friends that knew them. The latter is just as odd to me, if the friend is deeply saddened by the subjects passing and wishes to pay their respects,
why is it the ‘norm’ to automatically turn to social media to directly access and publicly type long messages to lost friends?
Does that person then unintentionally ‘become’ their facebook account?
I have been compiling a list of Facebook profiles for which the owner is dead, only a few I actually knew of when they were alive. Can Facebook preserve the pixelated ‘life’ of someone forever, or is the website lifeless and dehumanising enough for us to never have an online existence in the first place, or both? (read previous post for more discussion)
STUDIUM; What the literal image is, the cultural reading, the narrative
PUNCTUM; a memorable point within the image that draws you in, creates interest
(Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida)
Above is a small selection of the facebook profiles belonging to people passed away that I have collected. I then took the profile photo left behind and cropped them to which I decided was the ‘punctum’, the obvious narrative/studium was mostly removed and they were anonymous. This was an automatic decision to keep my work ethical, there is no way of gaining permission so it seemed morally wrong to show identities, even though these images were found publicly on the internet for anyone to view.
4 of the profile photos photomontaged, abstracting the image further;
Next I decided to return to working digitally, as the subject itself, although still taking steps to remove the narrative. (below created using the algorithms of the google image ‘drag drop’ search option, each thumbnail grid is what google decided were the most similar online images to each of the profile photos)
Projection images at 24 frames/second
[to be continued]