Death, and twenty-first-century technology

Death, and twenty-first-century technology

Technology and social media have changed many aspects of our lives. It stands to reason that they are also changing the way we deal with death.

In January 2017, ICM, on behalf of the Coop asked 2000 adults in the UK questions regarding death in our digital age. Here are some of the results.

Posting notices of a death online

Ten percent of those questioned felt posting a death online to be "normal". Over twelve percent, had posted notices of a persons demise online to notify others. While nearly half (45%) had seen online posts about the loss of a loved one.

Twenty-five percent said they would not have known about certain deaths if the information had not been shared on social media, while around twenty- percent said they would like to learn about someone's departure on social media.

Seventeen percent said they would be in agreement with their family posting notices about their dying online. While nearly half(45%) were not in agreement, and thirty-eight undecided. Over half (57%) of those questioned thought it a nice way in which their memory could live on, and almost twenty-five percent of people under 24 said they had posted about a friend's death online.

One-third of people agreed that social media had contributed to the decline in sending sympathy cards, and ten percent commented that online posting is quicker and cheaper.

Why post about a death online?

Most people (47%) felt it was the quickest way to inform people, and twenty-five percent used online updates to keep people informed. Eighteen percent did so to prevent online friends from trying to contact the deceased online.  The same percentage posted online so as not to have to tell someone in person if they saw them. Nearly half (45%) used their post to express their feelings about the deceased, and seventeen percent because they wanted to read nice comments posted by others in response to their post. Sixteen percent of people said the person spent so much time online, posting their death there was natural. Nine percent posted simply because everyone else was.

Where are people posting?

Most people (84%) would post news of a bereavement on Facebook. Twitter accounts for eighteen-percent of posts and Instagram eleven percent.

What's in the future?

Twenty-two percent of the people asked, think that live streaming of funerals will become commonplace.

It seems that technology and social media are already affecting how we communicate about and deal with the death of a loved one, and when making plans for our demise maybe we should express our wishes regarding the use of them to our loved ones.