Being dead online

It’s not something we usually like to think about – death. I know I generally avoid thinking about it, just like other things I don’t want to do any time soon, clean my room, apply for a real job, study for exams. But other people are thinking about death and thinking about what happens to their online selves after they die. It’s kind of heavy stuff, but of course someone has found a way to make money off it. Legacy Locker is a website that  promises to execute your online will. You can organise who gets the passwords to your Facebook, your Twitter, Flickr, Youtube channel, and probably even your WordPress blog as well. You can also leave a message so that person knows what to do with them, to close them down, remove photos, make them private, or broadcast your passing to your friends and followers.

I find it all a bit weird, this article here talks about people whose partners have tweeted or updated to let others know that they have passed away. To b honest, even though I found out Osama bin Laden died on Twitter I would prefer a phone call if it was a friend or loved one I was finding out about. In the past year, a teacher from my high school passed away really suddenly and my mum found out by a phone call. Even though I wanted to share how I felt with my friends, I knew it wasn’t right to put it on Facebook – I never know who is looking. Someone else didn’t think the same way I did and posted “RIP” and the teacher’s name. The comments were “What?!?!” basically over and over again. To me, it seemed a bit wrong that this person had no control over what people were saying about her.

It’s a bit different with the generations that grew up with this technology, a young person who passed away recently in my home town has a Facebook that seems like a fitting memorial now. In the first days since he died, his Facebook wall was full of messages of people expressing how much they missed him – many more than the death notices in the paper the next week. Now, a month later people are still using the page as a way to share their memories and tell their friend what’s going on.

These experiences are obviously not very individual and they will become more common as our generation grows up. Some people will worry about privacy and what should or shouldn’t be shared or made public. In a weird way, it’s good that creepy services such as Legacy Locker are available because it is something that more and more people in our generation will think about, as we are almost completely networked online and people who feel strongly enough about it need a way to have control. I think what this shows, is that we have moved on from the question of what should be put online and what should be published – because the way we interact with technology is moving at a pace that everything is moving past that question. The new questions are how should news like this be published and when? and who to?

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One thought on “Being dead online

  1. This is such a great post! Really original too. It’s such an interesting concept and definitely something worth considering because unfortunately, it’s the way of the future. Particularly can relate to your reference to Facebook memorial sites- a nice idea but really, they are easily forgotten and eventually will become redundant, whereas physical memorial sites or commemorations etc are much more personal and meaningful. ‘Legacy Locker’ is super interesting too… Yes definitely a slightly deep/morbid topic but definitely something society is going to have to consider in the future. X

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