Dying on the Internet

The worst part of my day is seeing my mother. 

I haven't seen her in person since 2009, but she pops up on my Facebook news feed every few days. The posts are courtesy of our mutual online acquaintances.

My mother and I are not Facebook friends, but she continues to haunt (maybe that's not the right word, I don't believe in ghosts) my online life.

I've spent the bulk of my adult life thus far vowing to not make the same choices she did. That's why, this week, I took the first step in planning for my death. 

I don't have a will, or any burial instructions (or, at this point, preferences), but if all goes according to plan, I will disappear from my friends' social news feeds whenever a loved one tells Facebook I'm gone. 

It felt morbid to change the setting -- I'm 26, healthy, and I don't like thinking about what happens in that moment before death -- but it also felt completely necessary.

I'm not alone in my feelings -- Facebook made the change at the request of users like me, who might be uncomfortable seeing their loved one after they're gone. I think it violates a sense of closure. I haven't experienced a lot of death, but I've seen many times what it can do to your senses to see someone you thought you'd never see again. It's jarring. 

My friend Amber told me I should reconsider having my page deleted, but I think we both gained a little more insight when I told her it's upsetting, and when she said seeing a reminder of someone who's gone can be a happy memorial. Everyone processes differently. 


Move and shift

They say variety is the spice of life. It's happening for me. 

After several years of writing about cops and robbers and politicos and teachers, I've begun the process of shifting to a role at work that will allow me to work more behind the scenes managing my newspaper's Lifestyle section. 

It's a job I never thought I'd love. Lifestyle isn't news, right? It's for softies and old ladies who want to know what's happening at the retirement homes. 

But I see this new chapter as a challenge, and an opportunity for me to stretch my creative lens and write the kind of stories that tell us more about the world around us than we might immediately be aware of. There's tremendous value in this type of editorial, and I've set out to prove that. 

It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.
— Lucille Ball

I'm also doing it for personal reasons. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to write about the ugly parts of the world every day. I thought I was that person but I guess I don't have what it takes because I'm tired of it. (No shame.) Do with that what you will, but it's important for me to gain happiness from the work that I do, and to be able to smile at the page when I'm done. 

I'm excited to see what this new season brings to my work, and to my immediate world. Athens has treated me well over the past several months, and I'd like to return the favor.