Digital Trauma Processing in Social Media Groups: Transgenerational Holocaust Trauma on Facebook
University of Amsterdam
In recent years, more and more social media (Facebook) groups have been created dealing with memories of the Holocaust in Hungary. In this article, I analyze and compare two groups, “The Holocaust and My Family” and “The Descendants of the Victims and Survivors of the Holocaust” in the framework of my research project on the concept of digital trauma processing, entitled “Trauma Studies in the Digital Age: The Impact of Social Media on Trauma Processing in Life Narratives and Trauma Literature: the Case of Hungary.” I show how the concept of trauma and trauma processing itself are changing in the digital age as a consequence of the element of sharing (in posts and comments in digital media) gains more importance and thus counteracts the element of silence, which was considered the most important element of trauma on several levels. How does digital sharing of memories of traumas help unblock previously blocked avenues to the past, and how does it contribute to the processing of collective historical traumas and consequently to the mobilization of memories, modernization, and the transformation of identities? I examine how the given characteristics of the different types of Facebook groups, public or closed, influence the ways in which people communicate about a collective historical trauma. I touch upon the issue of research ethics in connection with the handling of sensitive data in social media research. I examine the book The Holocaust and My Family, a collection of posts from the group, and analyze as a case study a post and the related comments, in which a descendant of a perpetrator comes out in the group.
Keywords: collective historical trauma, Holocaust, digital trauma studies, social media, Facebook groups, social media research ethics