Life and Death in the Time of Social Media

Everyone deserves their dignity and peace of mind

Richa Bhattarai


Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

Is a child born if you don’t put their picture up on the internet? Perhaps not.

Have you really paid your respects to a deceased unless your social media is updated with a heart-wrenching caption along with a picture of you both hugging? It is doubtful, too.

Or that is what it seems to me these days.

I enjoy the sight of those cuddly, wriggly babies as much as anyone else. In fact, I constantly pester friends and cousins for pictures of their newborns, and pore over their collection of the little ones decked up in tiny sunglasses and pink frills. That way, you can easily keep track of what the next generation looks like, and how cute they act. Always useful and heartwarming information to have.

But here I am talking of the more — for lack of a better word — disconcerting pictures. I was actually alarmed when a picture of a newborn, complete with the placenta and umbilical cord, popped up on my newsfeed. The child, not surprisingly, was a messy glob of blood and white matter. The mother looked disoriented, making a feeble attempt to smile for the camera. Childbirth must indeed be the most beautiful feeling in the world, a moment to treasure forever. Also understandable that the parents would want to capture this moment, and flip over their album (or, more correctly, scroll through iPhoto) to reach this particularly poignant memory of overwhelming joy.

A thing to ponder about, though, is that once uploaded on the internet, these pictures are going to be there forever. Even if deleted, they will be lurking just around the corner, begging for someone to discover them. Fifteen years later, will the child really thank its parents for displaying its chaotic birth to all and sundry — including their first crush? I am not even close to the couple, they are merely acquaintances, and they still thought it prudent to share their extremely private moment with everyone in their circle, including me. I am in no position to judge the contents of anyone’s social media, but perhaps they could just have bundled up the child before exhibiting it to the world? For the infant’s own sake if not for ours?