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As most of you already know, legendary singer Etta James died today at 73. I say most of you know because like me you probably check your Facebook and Twitter most mornings and get your news that way. But what you also get with these two social networking sites are comments. And when a singer dies, everyone makes the announcement personal, from the RIP to the “thanks for the music.”

I always find this outpouring of emotion quite interesting. When Apple creator Steve Jobs died a few months back it was as though everyone knew him personally (maybe that had something to do with using his products on a daily basis). We form relationships in all kinds of ways – from the personal to online folks – but I find the connections we form with singers and musicians to be most interesting.

Many of us often recount where we were when we heard, say, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson died.

So on today’s show:

WHY DO WE FEEL SO BAD WHEN A SINGER/CELEBRITY WE DON’T KNOW DIES?
DO YOU FEEL A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP TO THE ARTISTS YOU LISTEN TO?
HAS SOCIAL MEDIA MADE US GRIEVE MORE PUBLCILY FOR PUBLIC FIGURES? 

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Social Grieving: Has social media changed the way we grieve for public figures?

As most of you already know, legendary singer Etta James died today at 73. I say most of you know bec…

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Brad Frenette
#1 posted by
Brad Frenette
on Jan 20, 2012

Social media gives a new and public platform to vent. People were still as emotional when JFK died, but had to express that in the schools, on the streets, in the bars. Imagine the hashtag for that. Twitter makes it more public, and certainly spreads the news faster so the collective shares the news collectively. Cobain is the last one I can remember that was before social media, and that was pretty widespread -- weeping in the streets. Of Seattle, at least. 

cam_bell
#2 posted by
cam_bell
on Jan 20, 2012

I think that we tend to mourn people that participate(d) in an activity we also participate in. For those of us on CBCR3, that's music, so we grieve when we hear that musicians have passed away.

In other news, Canadian freestyle skiier Sarah Burke just passed away, and the entire skiing community, regardless of whether or not they knew Sarah, is grieving. I think we grieve icons because they are the public faces of a sport, a music style, a geographic location, a group of people or organization, etc. A little part of that activity dies when a figurehead dies, but the new generation has to accept the loss and fill their shoes.

IanAlexanderMartin
#3 posted by
IanAlexanderMartin
on Jan 20, 2012

I suspect so. The "spocial media" means than anyone connects to others more, well, socially. Thus, when they die, we feel the pain more intensely. When JFK, MLK, RFK, and John Lennon were killed, we all felt the loss of hope, potential, and a better possibility was taken from us. Thus, the loss of hope dissappeared.

Now, however, we feel that the loss of Amy Winehouse (name selected at random) means more than it actually ought to. 

When Miles Davis died, I thought "damn, now there's a gigantic, full career come to an end!" With Etta James, I feel the same way. Others might see it as a requirement to wail at the soul-crushing, devastating, end of all joy in their life they perceive it to be.

So what? Because news reaches us in an instant doesn't mean it's important, people! Get a grip!

Phah!

Now take your blueberry phones and get off my lawn!

IanAlexanderMartin
#4 posted by
IanAlexanderMartin
on Jan 20, 2012

Sorry: "social media" in paragraph 1

marie_curious
#5 posted by
marie_curious
on Jan 20, 2012

I don't know about singers/celebrities, but I took it a little hard when Jack Layton passed away last summer.  I'd never met him, but I and many of my friends definitely did the Facebook grieving thing. 

I think social media makes it okay to share what we are thinking/feeling from a safe distance behind a virtual wall.  It's sort of a miniature way to pay tribute to the deceased. But as Mike Dawson once pointed out at a Library Voices concert, posting on social media and wearing the colour orange doesn't pay tribute to Jack's memory as much as being socially active and helping to carry on his legacy. 

pangea
#6 posted by
pangea
on Jan 20, 2012
vraets
#7 posted by
vraets
on Jan 20, 2012

Don't shortchange spocial media. I'm a huge fan of tvitter and I have over 900 friends on facebrook. Though I shut down my myplace account a few years ago.

jday
#8 posted by
jday
on Jan 20, 2012

I don't use facebook or twitter and generally am not a big social media fan - likely because I would achieve about 9 friends as opposed to 900...  However a coworker and I were just talking about Sarah Burke and I mentioned how affected I am by her death even though I have never met her, or had even heard of her before her accident.  I followed the story in the media.  However, if I were a social media user, I certainly would have posted or tweeted my feelings about her death.  Social media is just another means to communicate.  Our sadness is influenced by those around us to some degree at least.  Having said that, I wouldnt be any more sad about Sarah Burke's death if I did have 890 "friends" to tell it to or hear it from...  But I also wouldn't call it grieving - however I think I did grieve when Lennon died...

kathyjean
#9 posted by
kathyjean
on Jan 20, 2012

I took it hard too. Was weeping listening to the funeral, for sure. 

 

jdurley
#10 posted by
jdurley
on Jan 20, 2012
jdurley
#11 posted by
jdurley
on Jan 20, 2012

oops, I totally was just reading and I must have accidently hit the submit button. 

But I do think there is a new element to grieving related to Social Media.  Overall, I think it's a good thing, because grief is hard, and the more support one can get, the better.

IanAlexanderMartin
#12 posted by
IanAlexanderMartin
on Jan 20, 2012

Well, I'm on Twittewr (with two accounts, actually), and facebook for sometime now. It's not the Social Media I have a problem with, it's the way some people use it.

To those people who wail and moan when anyone dies, I want to shake them and point out that "people are dieing constantly but you never hear about them".

Perspective is what I see a shortage of, I guess. You know: brains? Remember those?

But it's not wide-spread, you're right. Totally. 

[puts down his altogether too broad brush]

vraets
#13 posted by
vraets
on Jan 20, 2012

I was simply tinkering with your initial typo (note the 'typos' in my reply). No harm intented. I just got a kick out of the way "spocial media" sounded in my head.

flagpole music
#14 posted by
flagpole music
on Jan 20, 2012

mabye that's not quite the right word but I think with social media it has turned into a bit of obligation. You feel a bit like people will think you're insensitive if you don't. It's turned into an easy way to pass on any expression - be it anniversary, birthday, sympathy whatever.

There's good & bad. it's tough to remember events & go to the trouble of card, post office, etc. FB does give you a chance to pass on those thoughts. & it's the same with sympathy.

I tend to avoid it but there have been cases. Natasha Richardson comes to mind. she was my age & we had a mutual friend & it really hit me. I posted a note on a friend's wall today about Etta James because we saw her play at HOB Chicago together. but my thoughts are definitely much more with my friend, Charlie, who is burying his lovely mother today.

I do think to an extent, it's to assuage our own feelings - probably more unconciously than a choice.  & it's become a social network example of what passes for manners, so to speak. 

IanAlexanderMartin
#15 posted by
IanAlexanderMartin
on Jan 20, 2012

Dear God. I feel daft now.

Well, daft-er.

flagpole music
#16 posted by
flagpole music
on Jan 20, 2012

i actually have to say i like that too.  it's like 'spoof' & social media smushed together....

flagpole music
#17 posted by
flagpole music
on Jan 20, 2012

i had a helluva time explaining to someone that yes, her death was 'inevitable' because well, all our deaths are inevitable.

there was much more argument involved but that was the real priceless piece

IanAlexanderMartin
#18 posted by
IanAlexanderMartin
on Jan 20, 2012

The Hoodoo Gurus.  Anyone else?

TO to LA
#19 posted by
TO to LA
on Jan 20, 2012

Can this Sloan song go on the list of "songs I'm now sick of"?

IanAlexanderMartin
#20 posted by
IanAlexanderMartin
on Jan 20, 2012

George Harrison. 

kathyjean
#21 posted by
kathyjean
on Jan 20, 2012

Nope. :) 

Just kidding. I'm not tired of it yet, but it's coo' if you are!

kathyjean
#22 posted by
kathyjean
on Jan 20, 2012

WHY DO WE FEEL SO BAD WHEN A SINGER/CELEBRITY WE DON’T KNOW DIES?

I think because on some level we feel connected to them. With singers, they often speak to our hearts with their music, thus an attachment to them grows. Song is so powerful in that it can connect us with moments in our lives or feelings we've had. 

With celebrities/public figures. I guess we all have favourite actors and stuff. If we don't like the movies they were cast in we probably wouldn't care as much as if you were hooked on their movies/and were connected to the work they did or lived vicariously through them. I was a big fan of Health Ledger. 

Jack Layton, as a political figure, was popular, of course. He saw such success in the same year that he died, which is just heartbreaking, political ideology aside. His letter to Canadians was great and positive and forward thinking. Christie...whatever her name was's article was published WAYYYY too soon after his death...(no respect at all!!) Calling him vainglorius for writing a letter to the people of Canada was completely uncalled for. If he was just a regular person, he wouldn't have written a letter to Canada, now would he?! He felt a responsibility to the people in this country, like any political figure should. 

Wow, I got on a tangent there. 

 

kathyjean
#23 posted by
kathyjean
on Jan 20, 2012

HAS SOCIAL MEDIA MADE US GRIEVE MORE PUBLCILY FOR PUBLIC FIGURES?

Definitely. Whether one chooses to profess their grieving via social media or not. It's just another form of expression, really. A thoughtbox that allows us to share thoughts, feelings, products, ideas, similar interests.

Not sure if it's a good or a bad thing. Some people tweet every detail of every bit of their day an are still miserable, so is it a good tool for greiving? Not sure. 

 

flagpole music
#24 posted by
flagpole music
on Jan 20, 2012

wow, Lisa - don't hear him too often. i was doing a bit of head-scratching  - doing the 'i know i know that voice from somewhere' thing....

zammachus
#25 posted by
zammachus
on Jan 20, 2012

HAS SOCIAL MEDIA MADE US GRIEVE MORE PUBLCILY FOR PUBLIC FIGURES?

Unfortunately, yes. I think it's ridiculous. The outpouring for Jobs irritated me. The fact that people were physically in tears over it is slightly offensive, in fact. The man was nothing more than a salesman, albeit a very good one. If you are actually brought to tears by the news of someone's death you probably ought to seek help.

CDNz1
#26 posted by
CDNz1
on Jan 20, 2012

Toto-la...

I saw that earlier and chuckled.

<back to work>

zammachus
#27 posted by
zammachus
on Jan 20, 2012

Last sentence: *someone you have only read about/seen on tv

Crying about your best friend's death is natural... although grief counselling might be advisable if you are having a hard time coping.

grub
#28 posted by
grub
on Jan 20, 2012

Why all the sad sounding music tonight? It's Friday night already here in the east. Still like your show.

Lisa Christiansen
#29 posted by
Lisa Christiansen
on Jan 20, 2012

It feels like night in Vancouver!

flagpole music
#30 posted by
flagpole music
on Jan 20, 2012

well, yes, if you're going to talk about death  I understand that but maybe go ahead & play Richard Laviolette's "The FUneral Song" too. it's on theme.

That's what I want when it's my time.  Have a rocking good wake, please. I have a list including "Pogues" "Great Big Sea" & other aweseomness.tell stories. Raise a pint.  Say how glad you are I lived, not how sorry you are I'm gone. Say how glad you are to be living & get on with it.

please & thank you.

grub
#31 posted by
grub
on Jan 20, 2012

Lisa you cost me money this week.I see an Arkells song coming up.Due to you I went out and bought their Jackson Square cd.Thanks for introducing them to me ,love the cd.

Lisa Christiansen
#32 posted by
Lisa Christiansen
on Jan 20, 2012

Most happy!

savvie
#33 posted by
savvie
on Jan 20, 2012

You know, I've been thinking about this a bit lately too - a part of me (perhaps a slightly cynical part?) wonders if there's a somewhat selfish motive to the public/social media greiving. Perhaps unconsciously, but it's like the poster gets a bit of the attention by claiming "so and so was so important to ME and it affects ME like this". Although there can be a difference in approach/intention for those who are simply paying tribute. Anyway, that's my social analyisis ramble for the day.

TO to LA
#34 posted by
TO to LA
on Jan 20, 2012

i'm down with Toto, but i don't want to make new playlists and reupload my doggy's picture.

CDNz1
#35 posted by
CDNz1
on Jan 20, 2012

Is that like Yoyo MA?

TO to LA
#36 posted by
TO to LA
on Jan 20, 2012

yes. also, i play cello*

 

 

 

*i don't actually play cello

mcfflyer
#37 posted by
mcfflyer
on Jan 20, 2012

Not much to say today, but I am listening, of course.  Have a great weekend, have fun on Granville Island, and see you in two weeks.

And thanks for finally sending some rain down our way.  Our first real winter storm of the year!

Lee

CDNz1
#38 posted by
CDNz1
on Jan 20, 2012

In Dearborn!

TO to LA
#39 posted by
TO to LA
on Jan 20, 2012

played twice today, liked it both times. groovy

flagpole music
#40 posted by
flagpole music
on Jan 20, 2012

yeah - but all of you - careful driving to Sarnia tonight. hope the weather is on your side.

TO to LA
#41 posted by
TO to LA
on Jan 20, 2012

same with this song. i should listen to more plants and animals.

CDNz1
#42 posted by
CDNz1
on Jan 20, 2012

The #DET~R3 are mobilizing.

ElliottBROOD & Harlan Pepper at Paddy's in Sarnia tonight.

Red Vinyl & Wapuche, too! 

flagpole music
#43 posted by
flagpole music
on Jan 20, 2012

me. #42. I am. i make no apologies.

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