In a sensitive article titled "Et in Facebook Ego," digital philosopher Michael Sacasas ruminates on Facebook as momento mori; that is, social media as a reminder of the incapability of death. Even in the hyperconnectedness of the digital age, it's still possible that our friends and loved ones can slip away without our having noticed their passing until they've been long gone.
When that happens, we're often caught off guard by the news.
Upon clicking over to their profile, I read a few odd birthday notes, and very quickly it became obvious that my high school friend had died over a year ago... It had happened while I was off of Facebook and news had not reached me by any other channel. But there it was. Out of nowhere and without warning my browser was haunted by the very real presence of death.
Clearly, the author's friend had given little thought to his digital afterlife. As far as Facebook knew, he was still alive, kicking, and in need of birthday wishes. What a rude shock for his family and friends who came to wish him well on his special day, only to discover that he had already passed away.
With social media becoming an increasingly important factor in our interpersonal connections, it is incumbent on us to consider planning ahead to manage our digital afterlives. Far greater in scope than just asking a friend to curate our Facebook or Twitter feed after we're gone, the technology is now in place for us to plan for our passing in advance.
Through SafeBeyond, we can schedule thoughtful, meaningful messages for family and friends to be delivered on birthdays, holidays, and important milestone days. We can ensure that our virtual legacy continues to reflect the person that we really are. Best of all, a little bit of forethought can ensure that our on-line footprint continues to reflect our true life's message long after we're gone.
We can, as best we're able, live our virtual lives as the very best kind of momento mori.