Where do young people go to when they grief? Do they cry alone in their bedrooms? Do they logon to the internet? How do young people in grief find each other? Do they phone a friend? Do they enter a counselling centre? Do they search through hashtags and websites?
Death has never been more public than in the age of the internet. Alongside waves of #RIP[insertcelebrity] tributes and #[nameofvictim] police shooting activism proliferating on social media are viral posts of everyday people approaching grief and documenting their experience on the internet: recounting a person’s final days, parting words and gratitude from the deathbed, captures of assisted suicide and “right to die parties”, and families commemorating the deceased.
These experiences of death and loss have been augmented and prolonged with the growth of social media use. More specifically, the ways in which a social media platform is structured and the dominant culture of its users has allowed people in grief to process their loss in innovative ways – new spaces of affect are created, new paralanguage vocabularies are innovated, and new transient networks of care are formulated.