Editorial: Is Facebook the Wake of the 21st Century?

Friendship is usually defined by concentric circles, but I have always categorized intimacy by telephone numbers. There are people I can call any time, people I would only call for a reason, like party arrangements, and people whose number I don’t have at all. It can be confusing when people in those latter categories pass away. You knew them, you feel a loss, but you are in a grey area.

When Dennis Boon died I didn’t attend his funeral. Friends assumed I was too grief-stricken but really I was afraid of intruding. I assumed the family would want to grieve in peace without a bunch of little punkettes running around.

As life went on and many friends passed, often due to an O.D. there was a disconnect between the family and this second “punk rock family”. We began having our own little wakes at a friend’s house, or at a club like Mr T’s.

Social network grieving started on MySpace. The person’s page would become a digital memorial, with friends leaving farewell comments on the person’s page.

This week I have lost two people, each from a different community.  FaceBook is where we publish the notices, and soon there is a flood of messages of disbelief, grief, and the sharing of anecdotes. It is a virtual wake.

In some ways it does seem as if we are becoming further and further removed from each other. There is a fear that the computer is eroding face-to-face communication. But considering the fact that Anthropologists have found ritual objects in the earliest graves, I don’t think anything  can completely banish the human need to gather together and share rituals. FaceBook gives people in the grey area a place to gather.

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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