Notes from West London · Technology

Unfriending Dead People

Over the last couple of years I have caught up regularly with a handful of guys I was at school with over 50 years ago. There have been meals out, nights on the beer, weekly games of football. Some of my old classmates have come to see my monthly live performances at a local pub. We have all celebrated big birthdays in the last two years, which was what prompted some of us to meet again after gaps of a few years.

Earlier this week I had another enjoyable meal with Mike, an old classmate. Conversation turned, not for the first time, to Terry, one of our contemporaries. Terry died a few years back. He was at an informal gathering we had back in 2013 at a pub in Hammersmith, the last time I saw him. He and I were friends on Facebook, and 2013 counts as recent compared to some of the other guys who have connected with me on that platform in recent years. There are plenty I haven’t seen since in person since the 1980s.

I mentioned that I wasn’t sure exactly when Terry died. I heard about it around October 2019, but never knew the exact date. I had checked his Timeline on Facebook page to see if there was anything to indicate that he is no longer with us. There isn’t. He has received a few messages in recent years, including Happy Birthday wishes in 2022, at least three years after his death. The last message that he posted was on Christmas Day 2015. Between those two dates the only notifications are Happy Birthday messages from a few of the years in between. Some of them come from the wife of another old classmate. She died in 2021.

I said how odd it was to see messages sent from one person to another, sent while they were alive, but with no indication that they are now no longer around. Mike, who uses Facebook a lot more than I do, sees this sort of thing all the time. “I’m always Unfriending Dead People,” he told me. Unfriending Dead People. It’s a thing now.


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