19 Jan 2014

Virtual Life After Death

Here's a question that not many people online would have considered: when they die, what do they want to be done to all their online accounts?

If you died, would you want your Facebook account living on, with all your achievements on FarmVille or Candy Crush Saga immortalised on your Wall? Would you want your Twitter account to stick around, so your last few tweets are sealed in the digital archives for people to see? Would you want your gaming accounts to stay on, so that your gaming friends would still see your offline status as they go on with their lives and play more games?

It's not such a light question to ignore. You do have a right to be concerned with what happens to your online content and personal details that have been left on the Internet. What if some jerks come to your Facebook wall and deface it? Or even worse, hack your account and start posting things? What about if you had uploaded some private stuff that only you could see? Do you want that to remain unseen by those in your life?

Not too long ago I found this website (http://www.thedigitalbeyond.com) that touches on topics like the digital afterlife. What should you do to prepare your online assets for the event of your passing away? You could assign trusted people the permission to access your accounts when you're gone, to do things like close/delete the account, or add a few announcements about your death, or just delete certain information that you've uploaded. It's also important to look at the policies of the website owners on what can be done with the accounts of dead owners. Not every website would grant access to the next-of-kin or trusted friends.

Some people though would rather leave their accounts be. The online accounts have become like an alternative for the tombstone, serving as permanent reminders of your presence and influence. It can be a good thing if you've done great things with your accounts. Not so much if you end up leaving stupid drunk photos of yourself on your Facebook wall when you die.

Well do I want to have anything done to my accounts and online stuff, if it comes to the unfortunate point when my life expires?

Personally I don't really care too much. I suppose I could just leave everything be. I'm luckier to be able to have so much remembered about me if I pass on, rather than the unfortunate souls in the last few centuries whose stories have been lost in time forever. My online profiles would certainly survive better than an obituary in a newspaper or a tombstone in a cemetery. If some of the people I know find it creepy that my online "ghost" lingers on, then it's up to them to not visit my abandoned profiles any more.

And if some of you want to put some post on my Facebook Wall or send me a private message or even add comments on my blog, after I leave this world (if it comes to that in the future), that's fine too. It's a nice therapeutic way of seeking release and making peace with the past.

Just refrain from putting up nasty stuff.