Monday, September 14, 2009

Facebook etiquette question

Have we gotten to a point where it's OK to post your condolences on somebody's Facebook wall?

Please say no.

In the past few months, some of my Facebook friends have lost people close to them. I didn't get this information directly.

Rather, I learned it by perusing their comment walls. Between the usual online pleasantries, I saw one or two condolence messages. Most said something like this:

"So sorry for your loss. Let me know if you need anything. Xoxo."

While well-intentioned, I think these comments are impersonal and insensitive.

It's one thing when somebody posts a status update publicly announcing the death of a family member. In that case, go ahead: Express as much sympathy as you'd like.

But if somebody hasn't decided to let the entire cyber world know they're grieving, have a little sense and express your condolences in a private message.

Better yet, do something really revolutionary: Make a phone call.

We sacrifice some privacy when we enter the social networking world.

However, I'd like to believe that in life's most trying moments -- say, the aftermath of death -- we're still human enough to remember how to relate on a face-to-face basis.

Because if I suffered a horrible loss, I most certainly wouldn't want my sympathy notes to sit beside an invitation to play FarmVille.