‘IN MEMORY’ Examines Grief in the Time of Social Media
What comes to mind when you think of personal tragedy and social media?
That sounds about right.
For all it's first-world flailing, however, our existence in the digital world can sometimes provide us meaningful connections, especially during a vulnerable time when we need them most.
Tom Loconti was a dancer and street performer known as "Plainwhite Tom," and, like most of us, had a substantial Facebook presence, with connections to both friends and family. Before he decided to take his own life on New Year's Day in 2014, Tom left several personalized messages on the Facebook pages of his closest friends and family members, letting them know how much he loved them, and giving small glimpses into the turmoil that had driven him to such a dark place. What Tom didn't live to see was the panicked responses that followed, and–months later–an online community that bonded together through the experience.
This is the story of In Memory, the new Short by 72U that explores the connection made and sustained by Tom's friends and family through the tragedy of his suicide. A "creative residency that aims to open people up to new ways of thinking, collaborating and tackling modern communication problems," 72U was the perfect team to examine the growing phenomenon of processing grief in the digital age.
In Memory features interviews with Tom's mother, Mary Mendralla, and brother, Scott Loconti, who explain Tom's internet presence before and after his death, and how those who survive him use Facebook to provide continual support to each other.
"For once in my life, I believe social media is actually a good thing," said Mendralla. "In a society where social media is wonderful or distracting, it's great to see social media can bring people together whether it's good times or bad. Not everyone can mourn as a community, but Facebook is allowing that."
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