Does Our Pet’s Passing Merit Social Media? R.I.P. Fido
Does Everything Merit Social Media?
I just read a blog about a young man whose dog had passed on while he was away from home, studying in Paris. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/02/r-i-p/After much soul searching he decided that posting the news on Facebbook and other social forums just wasn’t in him. He wrote:
“So I fiddled with the color contrast and skimmed an online version of “The Little Prince” in search of something meaningful to put for the caption. But as I tried to decide which aphorisms about roses and wheat fields were most profound, and which of those would go best with the picture, I realized that my memory of Ginny was already getting muddled by my own vanity. Part of the reason I was even considering making a post was because it simply seemed like the thing to do, and to do otherwise would seem callous. But when it came time to groom her image for Instagram, my anticipation of the likes and notifications that would inevitably follow — and the idea of capitalizing on my dog’s death — made me squirm.”
Social vs. National News
Honestly, I though the article was beautifully written, but I had to asked myself “Why then, would you share your grief with those who don’t even know you?” I’m not looking for any answers. It was just a thought. I’m glad he did share his thoughts on the New York Times’ blog though, as it just gave me a blog idea of my own: Should we post the passing of our beloved friends on social media?
Again, I’m not looking for a right or wrong answer just for your own thoughts. Here are mine.
My Own Thoughts
When my last golden mix, Sparky, passed away I did indeed share it on Facebook. Not necessarily for me but for the others that loved him. Sparky was always a part of pool parties, Christmas gatherings, trips up north and everything in between. All of our friends and family members loved Sparky and many of them had nicknames for him. He was called Sparkler, Sir Sparks-a-lot, Sprinkler, Sparks, Sparko and my favorite from my little niece who couldn’t get the letters in the right order, Skarpy. I didn’t have a photo album of him but I did share a few of his best photos; in the pool, opening Christmas presents, with his favorite shark toy, and with his nose next to a baby bunny we were trying to nurse back to health.
Near the end of November in 2013 Sparky was diagnosed with nasal carcinoma. He had been having bouts of sneezing which we thought were his allergies. However, when after a week his sneezing got worse and we started to see blood when he sneezed I took him to the vet. Within a few days he was diagnosed with nasal carcinoma. After visiting a specialist we decided to let Sparky live his final days peacefully, without pursuing what would seem to be, unsuccessful treatment. Sadly, on December 12 we had to release Sparky from his wretchedness. We could see that his zest for life was gone. There was no more greeting us at the door with a toy in his mouth. No more running to the door when my husband was going out to the barn. He wasn’t eating or drinking and you could feel his pain every time he sneezed. His eyes were sad, tired, pleading. Needless to say, there wasn’t much time to share his illness with all of our friends and family members, only the closest.
So that is why I posted his passing on Facebook. I wanted all of our friends and distant family member to know that our good friend was gone. I didn’t care if the rest of my ‘FB friends’ thought I was “overemotional or, even worse, fishing for pity.” I wasn’t looking for consolation from others. There could be no consoling me. That would have to come on its own. I didn’t do it because I thought it was the “right thing to do.” I simply did it so that others who loved him would know.
And What Did I Get?
Did I get comments from others who never even met Sparky? Yes, I did. And I appreciated every one of them.
I received a comment from my niece who lived in Vegas and had visited in the September prior. She wrote, “I just seen him, what happened? I’m so sorry.” (Okay, so her grammar is a bit off but her sincerity was clear.)
Nobody commented about how over emotional I was being or that I looked like a dork in the swimming pool with Sparky. If they thought it, who cares?
And This Why We Are All Individuals
Perhaps that is the difference between a fifty-something and the young twenty-something who wrote that beautiful article. The fifty-something does not care how others react to the posting of the loss. She shares her message and moves on.
The twenty-something clearly stated that he did not even want to think about how he or his photos appeared to others on Facebook.
And that’s okay. But thank you, Spencer Bokat-Lindell for writing your touching tribute to your dog, Ginny. And good luck in your remaining college days and in your future writing career!
PS. When I do see a death notice of someone’s pet on social media I do leave a short reply of condolence.
Please share your thoughts on sharing a pet’s death on social media. I’d love to hear them.