This week I interview Debra Bassett, a PhD Candidate at the University of Warwick. Debra’s research explores the creation of digital memories on the Internet and how digital immortality may affect how people grieve.
Hi Debra, I am fascinated by the research you’ve undertaken. Could you tell us some more about it.
DB: My PhD research is looking at whether digital immortality being offered by the Internet will affect the way people grieve. As part of this research I am analysing thanablogs (blogs written by terminally ill people). I am analysing tweets from terminally ill people, and “death bed tweets”. Facebook is being used by many to create memorial sites and virtual graveyards for people to visit, these also are part of my research.
When did you start using social media. What prompted you to get started?
DB: I have avoided using social media personally for many reasons (I only have 1 Facebook friend as I refuse all requests from people). However, to do research I have to have Facebook in order to access the Facebook pages of others.
Which platform(s) do you enjoy using the most?
DB: I love using Twitter which I only started using as part of my research. You were the first person to contact me on Twitter and gently suggested I needed to fill my profile in! I love Twitter! My research does not sit comfortably within the Sociology department at Warwick, so I am alone in my area of research. Twitter introduced me to other thanatologists and allows me to discuss my research with others who understand. It also helps with participant recruitment (I hope). It also helps you to be extremely concise with your ideas and how you explain them. The “elevator pitch” but even more concise.
Which topics interest you – eg do you take part in any particular twitter chats?
DB: I like following political conversations, although sometimes I think Twitter creates an echo chamber (e.g. Brexit)
What advice would you give someone just starting out on social media?
DB: Just dive in, others will help and advise at you go along.
Finally, would you like to share a favourite quote with us?
DB: “Tomorrow is another day” Gone with the Wind
If you would like to contribute to Debra’s research, please visit her website debrabassett.co.uk for details on how you can take part.