Social Science Today

Social Science Today

ISSN: 2368-7169 (Print)    ISSN: 2368-7177 (Online)

Volume 2 (2015), No. 1, Pages 9-20

DOI: 10.12735/sst.v2i1p09

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"I Would Not Do It:" Student Reaction to Facebook Wall Grief Posts

Loreen Wolfer1 

1Department of Sociology, University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.


To Cite this Article     Article Views: 970     Downloads: 545  Since deposited on 2015-07-11


Like most emotions, how and when to express grief is socially constructed; and, as such, can change over time. Social media sites like Facebook may be changing the cultural norms surrounding grief expression by making it more public and prolonged. However, little is known about how non-grieving Facebook “friends” perceive expressions of grief in locations such as general Facebook wall posts. This paper stems from a broader focus study exploring where college students “draw the line” and what they consider being inappropriate posts on Facebook. In five of seven focus groups conducted, students (n=32) mentioned some aspect of grieving on Facebook walls as inappropriate. Using open coding and a constant comparative methodology, findings from these five focus groups suggests that these college students exhibit “tolerated inappropriateness” regarding grief expressions on Facebook walls. Tolerated inappropriateness is the label for when students claim that Facebook is not where they would express grief (inappropriateness), but they also claim that they would not negatively judge those who do (tolerated). However, this “tolerated inappropriateness” only applies when posts did not exhibit “display drama,” using excessively dramatic wording, or “display excessiveness”, were highly repetitive. Both types of posts were seen as a call for attention among the living and were looked upon negatively. However, when confronted with these posts, students overwhelmingly ignore them, while still making negative judgments about the post or person. Using symbolic interactionist theory, implications of the lack of reaction for emerging norms of grief expression are explored.

Keywords: emotion, Facebook, grief, socialization, social media, symbolic interactionism

To Cite this Article: Wolfer, L. (2015). "I would not do it:" Student reaction to Facebook wall grief posts. Social Science Today, 2(1), 9-20.

Copyright © Loreen Wolfer

Creative Commons License
This article is published under license to Science and Education Centre of North America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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