It was the evening of 6th November 2019, whilst sipping a glass of red wine, I experienced a digital encounter with my dead cousin.

Facebook’s memory feature reminds you of the posts that you made on the corresponding day of the year. If like me, you have been using Facebook for over ten years, then these reminders are often welcome and enjoyable to revisit.

As I drank the Australian Shiraz, feeling relaxed, I casually scrolled through the posts Facebook was offering me, that were dated 6th November. The one from 2009 was a photograph of my Dad proudly standing next to a flagpole in his front garden. At the top of the pole was a Canadian flag, hoisted to welcome his sister-in-law, who was coming to stay for a few days. I remembered this event and immediately started thinking about my Aunt who still lives in Canada. Then I glanced at the comments beneath the picture. They were several. Most of them were amusing comments that asked my Dad if he had hoisted the flag the right way up.

Then there was one comment that took my breath away!

The comment was written by my cousin, nine years previously. My cousin is dead. She died in an accident in 2012. Her personal Facebook page has been memorialised. Despite knowing this to be factual, the message was there in front of my eyes, as if she was speaking to me.

This changed my focus for the evening, I was no longer interested in looking at my other memories that the Facebook feature was offering me. I spent the rest of the evening thinking about my lovely cousin, how she had died so suddenly and how much our family misses her. I also thought about how one of her digital footprints was embedded deeply within Facebook’s data, only to be revealed once a year, on the anniversary of the date it was written. Only I would have seen the comment as it was linked to my photograph of my Dad and his flagpole.

Awwww I wish she was here!!!

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