This article comes from WeChat public account: All Media School (ID: quanmeipai) , author: Tencent media

For Lakers fans around the world, January 26, 2020 is a doomed day when Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident. The sudden death of “Black Mamba” left many people falling into a great sense of unrealism. Instantly, the global social network was shrouded in a sea of ​​sadness, and people around the world spoke to Kobe through text, video and other forms The sorrows that have been expressed have been endless in the past two months.

A long time ago, we often learned about the celebrity’s death on television and newspapers, and silently felt this huge shock and grief in our hearts. With the rapid rise of social media, each individual’s mourning for the celebrity can be expressed on the public platform, which also forms a “mourning culture” different from the past.

So, what’s so special about mourning a lost celebrity on social media? Does it make our attitude towards death frivolous, or even make death a show of consumption and self?

The meaning of “cloud mourning”: warming up to the digital mausoleum

With social media such as Facebook and Weibo deeply embedded in people’s daily lives, they not onlyIt is a place where one spends almost a third of their time showing and browsing “life” every day, and now also plays an important role in the experience of facing death. The rapid spread of social media is a key reason why mourning for celebrities is becoming more and more likely to become a public event.

When Michael Jackson died in 2009, Facebook had fewer than 400 million users and Twitter had less than 18 million users. By 2020, these two figures will exceed 2.4 billion and 500 million, respectively. At the same time, social media ’s unique technology “availability” (Affordance) More likely.

A 2010 study by scholars Caroll and Landry showed that online mourning can overcome the barriers of time and space, allowing fans everywhere to pin their grief in time and effectively relieve their pain. For fans of stylistic stars, this emotional connection that overcomes time and space barriers is particularly important. Fans and celebrities are generally unlikely to meet and meet each other, and the various social media homepages of celebrities often become an important field of connection between the two sides. When the stars suddenly died, their social media homepage became a kind of “digital heritage” (Digital Remain) , like a tomb in a virtual world , Continues to carry fans’ feelings for stars.

Scholar Jessica Mitchell believes that continuously leaving messages on the deceased’s homepage has become an important way to maintain the connection between the living and the dead. A study by Lisbeth Klastrup tracking the content of actor Vin Diesel ’s Facebook page between 2013 and 2015 also found that Diesel ’s partner, Paul Walker, in the film Speed ​​and Furious series ( (Paul Walker) After his unexpected death, his mourning content is often easy to resonate with their fans. Fans use Diesel’s homepage to confide in their hearts about Paul Walker.

After Kobe’s death, conversational messages such as “Thank you for giving me my entire youth” and “You took me into the basketball world” were left on his Weibo homepage. Through the continuous interaction with the deceased stars in the “Digital Tomb”, the fans received psychological comfort.

It turns out that social media is highly connectable (Associability) Sad people can hug themselves for warmth. If Benedict Anderson believes that the invention of the print media created the “imaginary community” of the nation, then social media has created a social support that can continue to interact with each other and thus directly face the death of others Grief no longer requires a “community of mourning” alone.

Purdue professor Heather Servaty-Seib mentioned that when his favorite singer, Prince, (Prince Rogers Nelson) died, Xu Many friends who haven’t been in contact for a long time but who once loved Prince have restarted contacting him on social media, listening to Prince’s songs together, talking about the past years. He believes that the deaths of important celebrities may even reshape or strengthen the emotional connection of a community under the media of social media.

A 2015 study also found that online mourning is not only a simple “mourning”, but also a “share”. The narrative identity of mourners is often directed to other peers, and the content they express Looking forward to the comfort of others in direct contact with others.

Besides this, this study also reveals another important significance of social media mourning: By providing an emotional outlet, giving meaning to what would otherwise mean meaningless death. The mourners often compare the deceased to some kind of spiritual symbol in the sorrowful text, and have a deep connection with their lives. In the sociological masterpiece “Social Construction of Reality”, Berg and Lukman call “talking” an “important tool for maintaining reality.” By talking and telling, people can organize their chaotic experiences. In the process of telling their unstable emotions to netizens, they “obtained a clear outline”Place somewhere in the level of meaning in life.

For example, after Kobe ’s death, a Filipino fan commented on Twitter: “Although I do n’t play basketball anymore, Kobe is still a very important part of my childhood memories because I like him together, I had some of the most precious friendships at the time. “The memory of Kobe also made us cherish these precious friendships in life. In addition to helping mourners “hold the ball for warmth,” social media also helps us find meaning in our testimony of death.

Pros and cons of social media: provide convenience, put on shackles

The word “convenience” doesn’t seem to be a key consideration during the memorial service. The “conveniences” provided by social media have also been unexpectedly criticized many times.

The sociologist Marshall Berman’s phrase, “Everything solid is gone” is a good description of the current Internet age. The network seems to have no memory, and the speed of hotspot changes is constantly accelerating. It may be the death of a celebrity in the last second, and the video of the food blogger will be printed in the next second. All the events that should have left a deep impression on memory are diluted by the continuously accelerating flow of information.

Claire Wilmot, columnist of the Atlantic Monthly, criticizes online mourning. He believes that “ The short and flat media attributes of social media make mourning death extremely frivolous and simple, as if it can be done with just a finger. ” The fragmented expression makes it even more difficult to see Basketball players can also complete a “cloud mourning” of Kobe with the simplest copywriting.

Claire further stated: “ Social media makes it easy to share grief, but it has not shaped a public culture that makes us more sensitive to ‘loss’.

In fact, judging from the mourning atmosphere created by the entire social media, the various oolong mourning words that mistakenly regarded Kobe as other basketball players, football stars, and singers and actresses have indeed dispelled the meaning of nostalgia and made serious Things get funny.

As the media philosopher Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The media is the message”, the influence of the media on society is not in the content it carries. The technical attributes of the media can shape a brand-new information. Environment and how people perceive it .

As a loyal supporter of McLuhan, the scholar Gershon discovered an interesting phenomenon in a teaching. In answering the question, “What kind of breakup is bad?” Many people mentioned that if Facebook Breaking up can be very offensive. Gershon accordingly put forward the concept of “media ideology” (Media Ideology) in his works. The expression of the same content gives different meanings and effects.

Samantha Kemp-Jackson believes that the technical characteristics of social media as mentioned above make it look more like a field for us to relax and entertain. It is more suitable for nurturing cultures such as selfies and beauty. Serious death topics are incompatible, and mourning the dead on social media always feels a bit inappropriate.

Apart from disrespect for the dead, “