The Algorithm Doesn’t Know My Friend Is Dead

Her ghostly presence on social media helps me mourn

Chris Calogero
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readJan 9, 2019

--

Photo: Patricia Boyce/EyeEm/Getty Images

DoDo you have LinkedIn? I do. I don’t know why I have it. Does anyone use it? Has anyone been like, “Thank God I have LinkedIn! It 100% impacted my life in a positive way!” I seriously doubt that has ever been uttered, but I have it and it sends me notifications and I let it keep sending them to me. I can stop it whenever I want, but I never do. I would rather complain about the notifications than bother to turn them off, which would take five minutes. I think this is the social media equivalent of having a clock in your house that is 10 minutes off and rather than reset it, you contextualize the very idea of time as it pertains to that specific area of your home. “When I am in the kitchen it is not actually 12:07; it is 12:17. Time is fake.” I mention all this to say that LinkedIn has twice prompted me to congratulate my dead friend on their work anniversary. If I haven’t even turned off notifications I am not going to be the one to break the news to them that my friend has been dead for four years.

Me and my friend, who is dead, making ART!

Grief in the modern age is a strange beast. There are so many ways we keep our cherished memories alive, and I honestly appreciate them. I have so many pics saved on my phone that I can post when the feeling strikes or when an anniversary (like today) or birthday hits. People can see that picture and know a little bit about what is going on in my head, and they can reach out or simply offer some sweet little heart emoji. People may condescend to this, but denying that it is a part of the way I (or many others) live my life would only be a lie. I have saved voicemails, videos, emails, and iPhone notes. These are all traces, perhaps minor or major, of a life that was lived in the very recent past. People have always saved possessions of loved ones to better hold on to their memories. Now with social media, we have a digital version of this. The twist is that those companies haven’t quite reckoned with how to deal with their users dying.

LinkedIn wants me to congratulate my dead friend on keeping their job and Facebook thinks she would be pumped to be…

--

--

Chris Calogero
Human Parts

Chris Calogero is a comedian and writer in Brooklyn. He’s been featured on the front page of Funny or Die.