Life, Death, and Social Media

A former colleague and Facebook friend of mine passed away last week. She was buried today after a Humanist ceremony to celebrate her life. Our paths first crossed in the mid-1990s when Kerry worked at a company that produced the publication I wrote for at that time. I didn’t know her well, but she was always lovely, had a big smile, and a keen sense of humour. Traits needed more in my industry, but sadly not seen enough (and I was guilty too of not smiling much, and not having a sense of humour during my time as staff at this job and the next!)

I remember her answering the phone to me (we worked in different offices), usually when I was ‘furious’ about something having been changed in a piece I’d written, and how polite and friendly she always was, no matter my tone. How silly it all seems now, some 15 years later, the journalist’s ego I had (I try to keep it at bay these days!).

Kerry then worked at the Daily Record, where I was for six years, and we were colleagues for a time. We became Facebook friends, as you do, and it was through this particular social medium that I heard about her cancer, and subsequently her death, and her funeral details.

The only contact I had with her since our work lives separated was on Facebook. I messaged her when I realised she was ill, and we had a short conversation. I posted comments from time to time on the pictures she put up of her cute little puppy Charlie.

Image via here

Last Friday evening, when I got home from a night out at the Edinburgh Fringe, I read one of my other FB friend’s status updates  –  ‘RIP Kerry‘ was the last line of it. I was stunned. I looked at the comments, and realised that it was the Kerry we both knew.

Since then, posts to her Facebook timeline have popped up most days in my news feed. Her husband Jim has asked people to write on her Wall so that he can show it at a later date to her parents. Some of the messages, from her close friends and colleagues,  are heartbreaking to read. Kerry was only 35.

Kerry used Facebook, not excessively, but she liked to post pictures on there, and share life events in her status updates.  It got me thinking about how entwined our lives are now with social media.

Just last night, Fearne Cotton announced that she was pregnant on Twitter. Quite a few Facebook friends have announced their pregnancies with a scan image, and told everyone of their delivery with a picture of their newborn.

I said to Mr GK after reading Kerry’s Facebook, ‘I wonder what will happen to it, in the years to come?‘ Whether we like it or not, if we embrace social media – from Facebook, to Twitter, to blogging, we are leaving a cyber footprint for all to see (depending on our privacy settings of course). For Kerry, her Facebook page has become a beautiful testimony to the lovely person she was, full of heartfelt messages, and pictures of her smiling face.

I hope it brings some comfort to those she has left behind.

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