Friday, August 16, 2013

Grief Trolls
The internet can be a source of great knowledge. It can bring people together. But there is a dark side, too.

Many people have found Facebook and other social media sites to be helpful as they grieve. Information about a person’s death is easily disseminated, along with funeral arrangements. Its efficiency is a blessing for the families, because it eliminates the need to make dozens of emotional phone calls.

Tribute pages are set up by family and friends, as a way for people to express their grief and share memories of the person who died. Not everyone can attend a funeral or memorial service, and this gives them the opportunity to give comfort to those left behind.

There is a phenomenon called “R.I.P. trolling”. People go onto a page – even a tribute page – often anonymously. They don’t know the person who died. But they post jokes and make fun of the person who died, even celebrating their death. They’re not just on Facebook: you’ve probably seen them on Twitter.

A suburban Chicago couple was warned to stay off the internet after their 15 year old son drowned in Lake Michigan last month: strangers were posting cartoons of people drowning with lots of LOLing.

Facebook issued a statement on R.I.P. trolls:

"Sometimes, just like in the offline world, people can say or do things that are offensive and in extremely poor taste — even in the wake of a terrible tragedy," the statement said. "When this happens, Facebook users are quick to report the offensive content, and we are quick to respond."

If you see this kind of behavior, obviously, report it immediately.

Everyone has the option of limiting who can comment on their Facebook page (I’m limiting the discussion here to Facebook – this happens on Twitter and other social media platforms). But that’s hard to do if it’s your page and you’re dead.

R.I.P. trolls defend themselves by saying they’re countering what they see as insincere condolences posted online by people who didn’t know the deceased.


It bothers you so much that strangers are offering their condolences that your response is to ridicule the person who died?

I’ve been trying to come up with an opinion I can post here, but I’m not having much luck. Maybe you can find the words.



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