Two UW sociology researchers are studying how people tweet about death, analyzing feeds of deceased Twitter users.
The platform is like a neighborhood where everyone’s doors are open, and you can walk through any one of them and offer your thoughts, says doctoral student Nina Cesare, ’13, who co-authored the study. Facebook, by contrast, is like a room where close friends and families gather to mourn.
The public nature of Twitter means that strangers can tweet acknowledgment of someone’s passing (“Never met him, but seemed like a great guy”), or reference a profile to promote awareness for a cause, like gun safety. As online platforms make mourning more public, we all might have lives after death—whether we like it or not.