When my grandmother died last year we found a bunch of obituaries clipped from the newspaper that she had been collecting for a long time. It seems that a popular hobby for anyone over 55 is finding out which one of their friends kicked the bucket by scanning the obituaries section in the local paper every morning.
Let’s take a look at how this is going to work in the social media era. Right now, I’m sure you have a bunch of obnoxious friends in your Facebook newsfeed that post unnecessary updates on their back pain, runny nose viscosity, flu symptoms, or general complaints about life’s health annoyances.
Depending on how old you are, flash forward a few decades. Soon, you’ll be able to watch all your friends dying in realtime. Their daily updates about how they still have a headache from this weekend’s bender will turn into white blood cell counts from their latest cancer screening or how many months the doctor has given them to live.
You’ll get hourly updates from the deathly ill that you barely even know. That chick you sat next to you once in 5th grade that friended you 25 years ago but never sent you even so much as a poke will be filling up your feed with the progress of her brain tumor three times a day.
You’ll stop complaining about app spam from Facebook games. I’m sure most will wax nostalgic about the glory days of Lost Duck wall posts from Farmville when Facebook is filled with death and mayhem.
At least when my grandmother clipped notices out of the obituary section she had to go looking for them. She wasn’t constantly barraged with a stream of updates on everyone’s final hours.
In fact, I’ve heard this complaint already from older folks that use Facebook. Maybe our propensity for whining will be a permanent barrier to social media’s adoption by the Social Security set.
Then again, the variable reinforcement of constant death updates might be an addictive pastime for those already into clipping obituaries. Hmm–maybe I just came up with a new startup idea.