Urban Legends, Loss, and Facebook

Last weekend, Walt and I went to see Company One’s production of Hookman by Lauren Yee. The synopsis, from Company One’s page:

“Being a freshman in college is hard when your roommate is weird, home is far away, and Hookman is everywhere! What’s Lexi to do when her old high school friend, Jess, gets killed…I mean – has an accident, a car accident, I think? Not even Facebook stalking the dead can calm the creepy feelings spilling out of the shadows in this existential comic horror slasher – a new play by Lauren Yee.”

I never watch scary movies, so I wasn’t sure how I’d like this play. It ended up being fantastic–a nice blend of comic and horror, matched with moving themes of loss, guilt, and growing up. The cast did a great job, especially since most of the dialogue was very grounded in the experience of being eighteen and just starting college. My favorite exchanges came from Lexi and Jess; they really felt like they were old friends who were trying to maneuver the fact that they were now in college on different coasts. Although this wasn’t a play for young adults, it managed to hit an almost YA vibe–it played with genre, wasn’t afraid to be funny, and focused on growing up. (Or maybe I can just connect anything with YA.) If you’re in the Boston area and are an adult/very mature teen, I’d check out Hookman.

Part of the play also dealt with how we find out about death via networks like Facebook. Like other life events, you can find out personal information about people even if you haven’t seen them for years. And if someone dies suddenly, you might find out that they’re gone (via lots of “we miss you, so sad you’re gone, etc.” wall posts) but find no information about what actually happened to that person. I think this is going to become increasing more common, especially for young people who don’t tend to experience the loss of friends very often.

At the Atlantic, there’s an interview with Patrick Stokes about death and Facebook. One part I found interesting was this mention of Facebook walls becoming online memorials:

“What’s interesting about it is that offline we physically create places, specially demarcated places, where we put dead people, but on Facebook these aren’t demarcated—they exist side by side with living profiles. So in that sense, what we have now is not so much like an online graveyard or cemetery; instead we just have these dead people among us.”

This reminded me of Hookman’s look at what it means to survive someone and how we connect. I’m curious to see how teens now and in future generations will deal with having these kinds of memorials among us. It can be a huge help in the grieving process, but I wonder if it would also make it harder to let that person go. Whenever you go online, there’s a reminder that you’ve lost someone. And not necessarily someone you were very close with, either. Are teens going to grow up in a world of virtual ghosts?

0 thoughts on “Urban Legends, Loss, and Facebook

  1. L.S. Engler says:

    What an interesting (and somewhat creepy) concept. I lost my fiance not to long ago, but I never imagined that people might still do things like post on his Facebook, so, after reading this post, I took a glance at his wall and, sure enough, there were a few messages about missing him and having a drink in his honor on his birthday and “catching him on the flip side” or “in the next realm” and things like that.

    It’s so touching to know how his life is still remembered, although extremely emotional, too. Definitely having a good cry right now. What a strange testament to our digital world and how interconnected everything is, that it’s so easy to reach out across distance and touch something so profound…

    • anniecardi says:

      So sorry to hear about your loss. I hope being able to see that other people are still thinking of him, too, is a small comfort. Sending very good thoughts/vibes your way.

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