Our digital echoes

This is tangential, at best, to the normal sort of thing you find on this site. But the story is funny and sad and charming and two or three other kinds of emotions too. What’s more, this once-rare phenomenon is at some point a reality for many of us. Give it a look:

I HAVE NOW BEEN living with one foot in the past, re-reading traces of a journey that ended on April 28, 2014.

The first line of Jon’s obituary read: “Family man, Winnipeg Jets fan and journalist Jonathan Jenkins died after a brutal home invasion—cancer crept in and robbed him of his life in his 50th year.” The line first appeared on Facebook, and then on Twitter. A cascade of messages took over my feeds. Then links to the newspaper obit were shared, with kind words ricocheting around the Internet. Jon’s name began trending on Twitter.

He was everywhere and nowhere.

At first I was uncomfortable with the online grieving. When people clicked “like” on Jon’s obit after it was posted to Facebook, it felt remote and impersonal as if someone was taking something that belonged to the kids and me. But digital death notices and online goodbyes are part of modern love. When I saw the names of people I had never met posting their condolences on a friend’s page, I understood it. When I die, I want my friends to be comforted too.

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