Dearly Departed

Communicating with the Dead in the Digital Age

in Social Analysis
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This article explores how the Internet is reshaping relationships between the living and the dead. Drawing on data from the online memorial site, it examines why online memorials are increasingly being used to commemorate the deceased instead of the more traditional genre of the obituary. It depicts how the Internet is providing new means for the bereaved to communicate with the dead and how these changes might signal new forms of consciousness and avenues of connectivity. Inspired by the findings of media theorist José van Dijck, I argue that online memorials serve both a commemorative and a ‘communicative’ function, allowing for relationships with the deceased to be maintained and for connections to be made with living others. This article also analyzes the Internet’s role as a ‘techno-spiritual system’.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology