Social media and the unhealthy consumption of death

Social media has changed the way that we approach death. Photo courtesy

In an age where we are led by social media, with almost all information being easily and instantly attainable for anyone with internet access, not much is sacred.

A study conducted by the International Data Corporation showed that within the first 15 minutes of waking up in the morning, 80% of smartphone users will check their phone. Social media has embedded itself within our daily routine – uploading life into the devices of its users.

However, with life comes death.

Social mediagreatly affectsthe way in which we process and digest the events that happen around us – death and the grieving process included. With one of the fatal flaws of the Internet being that it enables the overvaluation of one’s online presence, responses to death in the social media era have become performative, impersonal and unhealthy for anyone trying to grieve properly.

When the death of a prominent figure occurs, the feeds of social media sites are usually flooded with posts regarding the matter for weeks at a time. For some, this never-ending stream serves to satisfy the need for the instant gratification of constant notifications.

With the deaths of celebrities being shared online to millions of strangers before the relatives of the deceased are even notified, it can seem like the social currency of a like, share and follow greatly outweigh the value of blatant morality.

News outlets such as TMZ and TheShadeRoom are quintessential examples of unhealthy and inappropriate consumption of information. Prioritizingbeing the first to break a story, rather thanpracticing proper ethics behind the delivery of news, these outlets also play a part in this toxic development for readers.

This can be noted as equally harmful for the celebrities involved, as they are often forced to prematurely share their feelings on the passing of their loved ones for the consumption of their fans.

When the news broke of Kobe Bryant’s death, fans immediately took to LeBron James’ Instagram comments to demand that he publicly respond to the situation. When rap artist Megan Thee Stallion’s mother died, fans questioned why the rapper didn’t appear visibly affected. It is not uncommon for people on the internet to urge celebrities to publicize their grief for approval.

According to Psychology Today, humans are rarely “adequately equipped” to handle the affliction that accompanies the death of a loved one. The crass way in which the news of death is delivered and dealt with on social media can attribute to this.

While some may use networking sites as a form of comfort in the time of mourning, it is imperativein the face of death for one to take time away from social mediaand focus on their natural, private and proper grieving process.