×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Memory of Cory Monteith Lives On (and On) via Social Media

Twitter following skyrockets as fans campaign to keep his account going

Weeks after the death of Cory Monteith, his fans are continuing to honor his memory on social media in some unusual ways.

Even though his Twitter and Instagram accounts went dormant after he passed on July 13th, they have both since managed to add hundreds of thousands of followers, not to mention grass-roots campaigns to preserve those accounts. And fandoms that have nothing to do with “Glee” are mashing up the Fox show that made Monteith famous with images from completely different shows.

Because the traditional mourning rituals, like attending a funeral (or in this case, a cremation), are reserved for family and friends, cyber anthropologist Michaelanne Dye said Monteith’s fans are forced to rely on a less conventional and more public grieving ritual.

While the “Glee” star is certainly not the first celebrity to be commemorated online, the untimely nature and tragic conditions surrounding his death, coupled with the “Glee” community’s social media influence, is giving Monteith a vibrant afterlife across social media.

“As people began living more and more of their lives online, it was only natural that longstanding cultural customs would find their place in cyberspace,” Dye, the social media manager of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, said in an email. “Interacting with an individual’s Twitter profile after death might be compared to the practice of visiting a gravesite and leaving flowers or notes for the deceased.”

Monteith tweeted about the Syfy movie “Sharknado” the day before his death. He had 1,525,727 followers, which has since skyrocketed up to 2,126,145 followers as of press time — a daily increase of 1,856 people.

Chris Syme, founder of the social media/crisis management communication agency CKSyme Media Group, said a deceased’s online profile is used to remember, honor, and celebrate that person’s life.

“The phenomenon of celebrity Twitter accounts gaining followers after the user’s death may seem grim, but it’s really more of another way that people can say ‘we love you,’ ‘rest in peace,’” Syme said.

#RipCoryMonteith was the top Twitter topic trending worldwide the day after his death. It was later superseded by #StayStrongLea (for his on and off-screen girlfriend Lea Michele).

Jim Prosser, Twitter senior communications manager, acknowledged that “Glee”s popularity and large Twitter following have contributed to Monteith’s social media clout. The show’s official Twitter page has been gaining 3,559 followers a day since Monteith’s death.

A Twitter campaign — #DontDeleteCorysTwitter — arose a few days after Monteith’s death to ensure that the company didn’t deactivate his profile. It’s unclear why the hashtag sprouted up as Twitter, unlike Instagram, will only take down a deceased user’s account at the request of an immediate family member or someone authorized to act on the deceased’s behalf. For privacy reasons, Twitter declined to comment on whether Monteith’s family has contacted the company about deleting his account.

The actor had almost 9,000 Instagram followers early last week, even though he hadn’t posted photos in two years. Despite his growing presence on the network, Monteith’s account was taken down in accordance with company policy last week.

Meanwhile, the “Glee” fandom took to Tumblr to immortalize the late actor with GIFs. The majority of memorial blogs include images of Monteith’s “Glee” character Finn, especially ones of him romancing Michele’s character, Rachel.

But in a show of fandom solidarity, several Tumblr users have created posts splicing GIFs of Monteith with other pop-culture icons. One post uses GIFs from “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter,” “Supernatural,” and “Sherlock” with the words “Gleeks, we stand with you.” It received 100,706 notes in the last two weeks. Users have also offered virtual “fandom hugs” in support.

Although Monteith wasn’t active on Facebook, his fans have also used that social network to grieve — proving that one’s inactivity on a particular platform doesn’t necessarily reflect how it will be used to commemorate them. The actor left Facebook on June 30, 2011. He posted a status the following year telling his fans to follow him on Twitter under his new handle @CoryMonteith (it changed from @frankenteen).

Numerous memorial pages, including the R.I.P Cory Monteith fan page, which has 744,163 likes, have been created since his death.

Most celebrities and the majority of Monteith’s co-stars used Twitter to react to the news of his death, but Syme considers Facebook the social platform most conducive for grieving because it allows for more intimate conversations.

Dye said social networks create a space by which the dead “go on living.”

“Online users may look at a person’s past interactions, their photos, their comments, etc., which, in some cases, provides an easier way for others to remember and commemorate that person,” she said. “This type of interaction allows individuals to digitally memorialize the person by reviewing their past online interactions with them, as well as posting messages for the deceased.”

Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 sparked this trend of mourning publicly online, though Jackson himself wasn’t active on social media. Although there are no recent comparable examples, singer Jenni Rivera received a similar spike in social media followers after her untimely death last December. She currently has 2,303,817 Twitter followers, but took a huge drop in mid June and is now losing 281 followers a day.

According to Syme, Monteith’s fans will continue to create blogs and fan pages in his memory until they’ve experienced the traditional five stages of grief.

“As we go more toward acceptance, you’re going to see that wane,” Syme said. “The trend will die off eventually exponentially in relation to his fame.”

Monteith currently has a Klout — a social media influence ranking tool — score of 88 (out of 100). It’s unclear whether the number reflects current statistics, as the company said via email that “it would not be possible for us to track his score since he is deceased.”

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram also declined comment.

More Digital

  • Xbox Series X: Next-Gen Console Revealed

    Microsoft Reveals Next-Gen Console, Xbox Series X, at The Game Awards

    The next-generation Xbox console is officially called the Xbox Series X, and will be released over next year’s holiday season, Microsoft revealed during Thursday night’s The Game Awards. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer took the stage at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater to make the big reveal about the project previously known as Project Scarlett, and [...]

  • The Game Awards

    How to Watch the 2019 Game Awards

    The Game Awards will be taking place on Thursday night and, fittingly, there are plenty of ways to stream the event online. The whole show will be streaming live starting at 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET from Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater on The Game Awards’ YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch pages. Additionally, for the first [...]

  • Neon-Hum-Jonathan-Hirsch

    Sony Music Invests in Podcast Production Firm Neon Hum

    In its latest move into the podcast biz, Sony Music Entertainment announced a strategic investment in podcast production house Neon Hum. Founded by podcast producer Jonathan Hirsch (pictured above), L.A.-based Neon Hum has helped create multiple podcast hits including MSNBC’s “Bag Man” with Rachel Maddow, Dateline NBC’s “The Thing About Pam,” Wondery’s “Room 20,” Crooked [...]

  • Hulu Hopes to Make Ads Part

    Hulu Hopes to Make Ads Part of Your Binge Session

    If you just can’t keep yourself from watching another episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “PEN15,” then Hulu has an ad for you. The streaming-video hub is starting a trial run of new commercials aimed specifically at binge-watchers, which the company defines as subscribers who watch three or more episodes of the same series consecutively. [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Pledges $130 Million to Fund Content Oversight Board as It Hits Delays

    Facebook announced an initial commitment of $130 million to launch its new Oversight Board, which is designed as a way for users to appeal the social giant’s content decisions, but the entity is behind schedule with initial board members to be announced in 2020. The Oversight Board — which has been dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court” [...]

  • Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:

    Amazon Releases Secret 'Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker' Exclusive Video

    Amazon released a special behind-the-scenes look at “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in partnership with Disney and Lucasfilm, in order to — what else? — sell stuff to fans of the galaxy far, far away. The ecommerce giant debuted the Star Wars video Thursday (Dec. 12) exclusively on Amazon.com and Fire TV, with secret [...]

  • Jay-Z

    Tidal Gets Dolby Atmos Music, Jay-Z to Release Catalog in Immersive Audio Format

    Music streaming service Tidal has partnered with Dolby to bring Dolby Atmos Music tracks to its Tidal HiFi tier. This makes Tidal the second music service to support the high-end format. For now, support is limited to certain Android devices. Consumers may know Dolby Atmos as a surround-sound audio format for movies, which is being [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content