Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Facebook's New "Dead or Alive" Application: Ride Your Horse Right Into My Heart

I don't know very much about software design, but I'm experienced in overreaching, flying too high, making wax wings, and high diving. A year ago my friend's grandmother died. She'd been sick for a long time, and her death wasn't a shock. Everyone knew how she would die; the question was When.

So, simply, she died.

And the first thing that everyone did was to rush to Facebook to post their condolences: "Sorry to hear about your grandma, Paul. That really sux."

And things of that nature.

Then, a couple months ago, a friend attempted suicide. He didn't die, but he was hospitalized for three weeks. As soon as the news had spread, people were on Facebook: "OMG, Alan. I can't believe it. Why? Call me."

It's funny, but he did call that person. I went to visit him, and he was sitting up in bed clicking around Facebook.

"Who are you calling?" I asked.



"She wrote on my wall."

So he called, and he let it ring, but there was no answer.

Then he did kill himself, and, again, his wall was bustling: "Too soon, buddy. Too soon." I saw Sarah at his funeral, and I asked her why she hadn't picked up her phone, hadn't returned his call.

"Oh," she said, "he should've just texted me. I saw 'Mount Sinai Hospital' on the call display, but I thought it was just a wrong number."

"But you knew that he was in the hospital."

"Yeah, but I didn't know that he'd have a phone."

"But you thought he'd have a computer?"

"Of course."

So I called a friend who's into programming, and asked him to build the first Facebook condolence book and death-watch application. That way, if you die, your wall's automatically shut down. No more people saying, "It's been too long. How are ya, hun," when you're dead. The application would let you know who's dead or dying, and would prevent people from accessing their albums and Favourite TV Shows info.

Then we could create a kind of Virtual Cemetery. It'd be an online graveyard where people could go to visit the electronic effluvia of their pals' lives. Everything from Myspace, Facebook, MSN (old conversations)--it'd all be there. And this is coming, I assure you. Very soon.

Let me digress: Of all the things I've just mentioned, the posts on the wall of the suicidal friend really bothered me the most. Why couldn't you just have visited him in the hospital? C'mon. Last week a guy in Texas--a guy being executed--asked as his last wish to log on to Twitter and post a message. The message: "Palin? Are you kidding me? Glad I won't be around to see that"
All Posts On This Site Are Intended As Juvenalian Satire. If They Veer Into Horatian Satire, That's OK Too. Just, Please, Don't Take Them Too Seriously. PhD Students Can't Afford Libel Suits. CUPE Doesn't Cover Court Costs.
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