Google’s “Loretta spot” in the Super Bowl seemed to be the favorite of many in the ad business (although Jeep’s "Groundhog Day" was also praised.) The 90-second commercial features a real-life 85-year-old grandfather asking his Google Assistant to help him remember things about his late wife, Loretta.
Watching it, it was pretty hard not to dissolve into tears — especially if someone close to you has died recently.
But it's also a great example of a trend that I find pretty tasteless: using social media as a place to grieve for a lost spouse, friend, parent or pet. While I think it is entirely appropriate to post an obit on Facebook so that followers of the dearly departed get timely word of their demise and notice about the funeral, etc., I find it bizarre when users return repeatedly to share their pain with the world at large.
In the local paper, some families take out display ads on the anniversary of the death of a loved one, usually with a photo and a line or two of poetry and declarations that “you will not be forgotten” and/or “you are missed every day.” As designed and delivered, it appears that families think that those in the great beyond still read the paper and will appreciate being memorialized. Otherwise, the target audience is probably friends and family for whom a newspaper ad is an unnecessary reminder.
Likewise, posting a lament on Facebook seems utterly self-serving. It may be an effective way to deal with grief, but after a couple of years, who does it serve to see pictures of your dead grandfather supported by “best ever” copy? Does it mean you loved your grandfather more that those who don’t post periodic lamentations about their dead relatives? I don’t think so.
Similarly, is it really necessary to publicly congratulate one of your kids for doing something that every other kid in the world does, like graduate from elementary school or bake a sheet of cookies?
Doesn’t this simply add to the problems created by parents who think it's best to motivate their kids by praising everything they do (rather than telling them if they don’t turn off the TV right this very moment, they will lose their phone privileges for a week, or risk a swat on the butt)?
I realize that social media can be an efficient way to communicate with a lot of people in a hurry, which is a good thing. But I question why some folks use it to post on highly personal matters that really don’t belong in a public forum (you know who you are.
What kind of personal satisfaction comes from publicly celebrating a dead relative’s anniversary or birthday or date of death? That you remember them that day? What about the day before and the day after? And doesn’t saying so, especially when you seem to address them personally, assume that those in the great beyond also check their Facebook pages?
I don’t think RIP necessarily means “watch this space for further messages.”