Reality bites: death and the blogosphere

I was shocked and saddened to read that the partner of one of my blogosphere friends had died suddenly this week.
I won’t link to her post about his death here, as it seems personal, something that is meant more for those who know and care about her, even if we “know” her only from her words online.
Of course, her blog is public and anyone could happen upon it, but even so, there are some posts that feel as if they shouldn’t be casually shared.
This is the strange thing about the blogosphere: it’s both private and public at the same time. Every blogger will know what I mean by that. Occasionally, someone’s post goes viral, and they’re not always pleased: it seemed, said one, like an invasion of privacy.
While there are many more silent readers than those who communicate with bloggers they follow, always reading but never commenting, each blogger also seems to have an inner circle.
Some are people you know in real life, others are friends of friends, still others you read because you connected on other social media, such as twitter or Facebook. But the majority of bloggers I follow are people I don’t actually know.
The friend who lost her partner this week is someone I’m never likely to meet – and even if we lived in the same country, we could walk past each other in the street and we wouldn’t recognise each other; we could be introduced at a party and I wouldn’t know it was her, because I don’t even know her real name.
But somehow, that doesn’t matter. Somehow, I feel more involved in and connected to her life events as she reveals them through her blog, than I do with the life events of, say, people on TV, even though I can see and hear the latter every day and know their names and usually way too much other information about them.
The strange thing is that when there’s a death in your blogosphere, it’s as difficult to know what to say as it is in person. “Sorry for your loss”, “sorry to hear your news”, “thinking of you”, or the formal “sincere condolences” don’t seem to be enough in the comments section, yet in the end, they’re all you have. And the “like” button seems so inappropriate, though many people now use it as a “read and noted” button rather than really meaning “like”. Because how could you like a post about someone’s true love dying, after all?
Since I started blogging in late 2012, this is the first post I’ve made without a photo. Somehow, a picture just didn’t seem appropriate.

12 thoughts on “Reality bites: death and the blogosphere

  1. Really well-made points here about the blogosphere, Caron. There is a closeness here that you wouldn’t necessarily expect there to have been. And we do feel the loss when ‘blog buddies’ lose a loved one. Even if we never meet in person.

    • Yes, it’s really a new way of sharing life stories, isn’t it? Also, if it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have heard about the death of a dear friend a couple of years ago. She had moved overseas, but had become ill, which I knew about, but didn’t expect her to die. I happened to see “vale” and so forth come up on her FB page. Otherwise, I might not have known. So I was able to go to her funeral, at least.

  2. I hear you. There is a unique sharing in the blogosphere that I’m only just discovering. Words. They’re so much more personal than images.
    And I’m sorry for YOUR loss. Thanks for writing about your grief.

    • Yes, I agree with you. It even feels a bit strange to be affected by the loss of someone you never knew because of a blogosphere link with someone who you know only by an alias. The only thing I can think is that it reveals our humanity yet again and the ability of people to care about and emphasise with others.

  3. I find it interesting how so many people are not using social media, especially Facebook, to share news of a loved one’s passing. I suppose it makes sense because it has become the way we all keep in touch with friends and family who don’t always live bearby. But I still always get sort of a jolt of surprise because it is so public and will also be seen by strangers. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. I also think it’s very interesting how ‘close’ we become with some of our fellow bloggers. Chemistry is chemistry, I guess; and when you ‘connect’ with someone It now appears it doesn’t require proximity. We get to know and like each other on a whole other level and in some ways it is more intimate than if we’d actually met in person. I have met one of my blogging buddies who, as it turns out, lives in the same city I do. We meet often for coffee and it’s something I always look forward to. Just as I look forward to my online ‘conversations’ with my blogging bodies.

    • How lovely to have met a blogging buddy in person. I think also that meeting online is interesting because we are not influenced by peripheral things such as the way they look, dress or speak. Instead, we know how they think and write, things we may not find out about a new face-to-face friend for a long time, if ever.

      • Exactly. And I don’t know about you, but my blogging buddies range in age from their 20s to probably their 70s and it doesn’t matter because our common ground is ageless — and sexless for that matter. My buddies are men as well as women from every corner of the world. I love it.

  4. I understand. Sometimes, you become closer to people in the ether than the flesh and blood you schedule lunches with, right? But the comfort bit–that is hard to do in the ether. I’m glad you’re trying anyway.

    • And when you think of it, so many of our face-to-face friendships can be trivial: just meeting and discussing this and that for half an hour over coffee, then going back to our busy lives. Bloggers I know reveal so much more of their real selves.

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