How Do We Mourn In a Digital Age? 哀傷，在這新的世界？
This is a question that I have no answers. It's open for everyone to think about.
I came across this post today about our loss of a brilliant Steemian @lauralemons. I seemed to see this name but cannot recall exactly. I wasn't privileged enough to know her but obviously a lot of old Steemians know her so I can feel their grief.
As I didn't know her, this post isn't about Laura. Just that the post reminds me of my past experience of mourning a close relative of mine. A few years back, I lost a younger cousin of mine. She was only a little over thirty back then. Let's call her Angel.
Angel was the daughter of my mom's sister. She was a warm, caring and optimistic person with always a smile on her face. Even she was diagnosed with a troublesome disease at a very young age, her smile wasn't seemed to be shadowed by this saddened incident. She and I weren't in the same city, so we did not see each other often. Mostly once a year during the new year holidays. But we feel close when we see each other every time.
She was in the service industry for her entire career. She likes to interact with people I guess although these kind of jobs don't get you good salaries here. I have always admired her braveness as had this happened to me, I would have been very depressed to even lead a normal life. Later when I got married and later was blessed with a lovely baby boy, Angel was there to cheer for us and very happy to be his auntie. Angel did not get married probably due to her disease, so she shared her love to those kids in the family including mine.
One day I was told that Angel passed away and I was speechless and shocked. She was probably the first close relative of my generation to pass away. How could it be? how could it? She was so young and beautiful and caring and nice and everything... Why would God want to take her away? Just like that. Life disappeared overnight. Without a sign.
I didn't go to her funeral as my family thought we were so close. We weren't and we were. I did not blame them for not letting me know. So I might had cried for a few hours and was depressed for a few days but I got over it as we did not really have very deep attachment.
Three months later. I received a message from facebook. Today is Angel's birthday! Write a birthday wish on her timeline ... It was then I realize for the first time that people don't die on facebook. They can live as long as facebook shall live. I checked all the most recent messages on her page. Three months ago, there were a lot of messages expressing condolences. Some were even told by these mourning and got shocked. How advanced are we to learn others' death from internet messages...
As I checked Angel's photos of her fantastic life (yeah, quite a lot of places she had been to and a lot of cuisines she had eaten), I felt relieved to see her had a good run but at the same time I knew that facebook messages sometimes do not even come close to one's real life. I could only hope for the better.
I wrote a few words for her as well. Still a happy birthday to her although she had started another one. And said something like she will always be on our mind. I had no one to say to except facebook version of her.
I knew that at this time next year, facebook would notify me again. As no one will ever want to turn that page off. Angel will always be there. Always like that in her thirty's. She will not get old like we will. One day her nephew will grow to be his auntie's age...
In this digital age, we can all have a version of us online, on the blockchain maybe ... maybe even your entire life can be mostly recorded in the future ... If the technology is going to gather more and more information or even get an AI to mimic the dead, it will certainly make us dizzy and wonder what death means then....
Still, at the bottom of my heart, I know that she had left. No matter how many photos there are how many words she said there are... She was long gone. And I can imagine that even an AI can pretend to be her to some extreme standard, I can tell the difference.
The way we mourn our love ones' death is always the same. Never will it change. What changes is only the format. Deep down there is no other way for a human to mourn a human. If there is, we are not human any more.
Sorry, the blockchain does not have answer this time.
image - pixabay
三個月後，我臉書接到一個訊息，通知我今天是表妹的生日，要我留言祝福。那是我第一次意識到，臉書可以讓你長生不老，永遠存在，只要伺服器不關。我都忘記我有她臉書了。於是我瀏覽著她臉書過去三個月來的訊息，三個月前，哀悼的訊息湧入，祝福她一路好走，下輩子再做朋友等等... 還有人明顯是到這裡才被通知死訊，震驚於此事的發生... 好殘忍的時代啊，臉書通知妳臉友的死亡...
我看著表妹過往的照片，她一如過往般的，似乎在三個月前的時光裡，仍那般快樂悠閒。拉拉拉拉，你可以上看她這幾年的生活，到哪裡去玩，吃了什麼東西，轉通知朋友什麼生活小訊息，開心跟其他朋友合照等等... 一切都還在，彷彿觸手可及... 雖然臉書所呈現的生活，跟真正的生活有可能是天差地別的，但我們作為生者，總是願意相信任何亡者曾經非常快樂的徵候，總是希望她不曾有過遺憾，走的時候快速而安靜，趕緊下一趟美好的旅程...