chapter  11
15 Pages

Deconstructing Immortality? Identity Work and the Death of David Bowie in Digital Media

ByJohanna Sumiala

This chapter describes on Zygmunt Bauman’s ideas on death and immortality in the framework of the present-day networked modes of being and identity work carried out in digital media. It examines the ways in which individuals perform their networked identities in practices of the digital ritualization of death in digital media, in which immortality is produced as a liquid. Immortality can be conceptualized as a kind of utopia that motivates societies and provides them with meaning for life in the shadow of death. As immortalization becomes “public property,” overpopulation occurs. Death and immortalization, like any other socially constructed aspects of life, become the subjects of such rivalry and struggle. The ritual narrative of David Bowie’s exceptionality was repeated in digital media across numerous platforms by countless actors, including both professionals and ordinary media users, immediately after news of his death hit the world.