I'm addressing the latest trend to sweep Instagram, Facebook and even Tumblr: photos taken to honor a sick, dying or dead loved one. I'm sure you guys have noticed it too, but these photos get likes on likes on likes. These posts are usually captioned with something sweet such as "I love you poppy <3" or "RIP to the most loving grandma a girl could ask for... I love you so much." And I can infer that there are the most loving and kind intentions behind the post. It is great to seek support from your friends and family through social media especially while going through a hard time, but I would really love to draw your attention to a different way these posts could be interpreted.
First of all, if you like or post these pictures, you are not alone. I posted a survey on my Facebook page and asked my friends to take it. Out of 100 people, ranging from 15-21 (except for my 60-year-old aunt who answered -- shout out to Aunt Pam), 20 percent of the people said that they have posted a picture of themselves and a loved one who was sick/dying in honor of them on Facebook or Instagram. Sixty-one percent of the people said that they have liked a picture on Facebook or Instagram that was taken from a funeral or from a hospital room that was in honor or memory of a sick/dead/dying loved one. Lastly, 71 percent of my Facebook friends surveyed agreed that most pictures taken at a funeral or in a hospital to honor a sick/dead/dying loved one gets at least 100 likes on Facebook or Instagram. Even statistically speaking, these pictures get likes.
I know posting photos like this seems like a great way to honor a loved one, gain support from friends and followers and to get a lot of likes on a picture -- and believe me I understand the importance of likes in today's society. #Confession -- I've Instagrammed my bestie's French toast because it just looked way better than my lame egg white omelet. And you know that if my mom's froyo looks better than mine, hers is going on Insta.
There is such a generation gap between us, our parents and especially our grandparents. Going through my teenage years on social media (I mean I have it all: FB, Insta, Twitter, Tumblr, Vine), I've realized that my me and my friends have just become more open and public.
Instagramming, muploading and tweeting about what we're doing or funny and awkward things that happen to us is just a part of our culture. But God forbid I Insta a selfie with my dad at a Jets game without telling him about it, he freaks out. He usually says something like this: "Jessica, I don't understand why the whole world needs to know that we're here." Or if I post vacation pictures of us on Facebook, he just doesn't get it and will saying something like "What ever happened to privacy, Jessica?" #parentsjustdontunderstand. But, when he saw a picture on Instagram feed of one of my family friends and their dying grandfather, my Dad really opened my eyes. He started to explain to me that privacy is everything to people in older generations. This is not something they grew up with, and it isn't OK to post pictures of older people on Instagram or Facebook without their permission.
That really got me thinking, if my own 50-year-old dad had a problem with a harmless selfie of us taken at a Jets game, how would an older or sick person feel if you Instagrammed a picture of them while they are at their lowest most vulnerable place? I know you may be reaching to your followers and friends for support as you are also going through a tough time, but do you really think that a sick person wants to broadcast their illness, weakness and vulnerability to your nearest and dearest Facebook friends and followers? I'm sure it was hard enough to have even their closest friends and family see them like this. A selfie from a hospital room with your grandfather on a feeding tube does not do him justice. Most people looking at the picture probably never even met the man, and I know this is not the way that people like your parents or grandparents want to be remembered.
The Tumblr selfiesatfunerals.tumblr.com also got a lot of attention and accumulated 17,179 followers after it's inaugural post one month ago. The creator, Jason Feifer, complies photos that were posted mostly on Instagram and Twitter that were taken from funerals. Captions of these selfies usually consist of "#boyfriend #gorgeous #wake #hipster #tagsforlikes #photooftheday" or "Love my hair today, hate why I'm dressed up #funeral". Before Instagramming, posting or liking I urge you all to take in the moment at hand. Funerals are one of tricky times that really puts the human life in perspective. Look inward, pay your respects to your loved one, and really think before posting. Is this how you want to honor your loved one? With a selfie?
I hope you all think twice before your next post and like. As Miley Cyrus said in her 2009 YouTube video: Good-bye Twitter, "I stopped living for moments, and started living for likes and people." When going through a hard time, make sure you keep this quote in mind. Live in the moment and grieve as you need to, but try not to make such a devastating situation another situation that's infected by the social media "like"-craze. Keep it sacred.