Facebook of the Dead

A helpful reminder came up on my Facebook page the other day, but I ignored it.

The nofication politely informed me that it was the birthday of an old acquaintance. These reminders are generally good and do nudge me into action when my failing memory has, well, failed me.

This one, however, jolted my memory, stopped me in my daily tracks, and brought back the importance of all this that we call life. You see, my Facebook buddy had already been dead for almost a year and a half. I believed, quite rightly, that I could not help him celebrate his special day, other than by merely remembering him for that good person that he was.

The fact that the dead may outnumber the living on Facebook within the next fifty years is a sobering thought. This prediction has been made by a study published in the journal called Big Data and Society. If facebook failed to attract new users from now on, around 1.4 billion of its 2.38 billion users are likely to die before 2100 meaning the dead could outnumber the living by 2070. On the other hand, if FB continued to attract new users in the way it is now, it would take until the first few decades of the twenty-second century for the living and the dead to enjoy parity.

This got me to thinking about a time I spent alone in Mallorca whilst fulfilling a teaching contract. Facebook was a lifeline, but a couple of other old friends had died on it and their profiles were still active. Could it have actually been me who had died, gone to Mallorca; and was in fact being visited by supernatural digital messages? It was an interesting thought that I could never fully shake off.

And now I find myself thinking about that birthday reminder and if whether or not somebody else had received one for me. I will check my Facebook to see if there are any strange greetings.


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