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Tweeting Prayers and Communicating Grief over Michael Jackson Online

TitleTweeting Prayers and Communicating Grief over Michael Jackson Online
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsSanderson, J, Cheong, PH
JournalBulletin of Science Technology & Society
KeywordsCommunication, Death, Grief, Social Practices

Death and bereavement are human experiences that new media helps facilitate alongside creating new social grief practices that occur online. This study investigated how people’s postings and tweets facilitated the communication of grief after pop music icon Michael Jackson died. Drawing on past grief research, religion, and new media studies, a thematic analysis of 1,046 messages was conducted on three mediated sites (Twitter,, and Facebook). Results suggested that social media served as grieving spaces for people to accept Jackson’s death rather than denying it or expressing anger over his passing. The findings also illustrate how interactive exchanges online helped recycle news and “resurrected” the life of Jackson. Additionally, as fans of deceased celebrities create and disseminate web-based memorials, new social media practices such as “Michael Mondays” synchronize tweets within everyday life rhythms and foster practices to hasten the grieving process.