Preparing for Your Digital Afterlife
For as long as the human race has existed, we’ve been (perhaps understandably) more than a little concerned about what happens when we die. Past civilizations envisioned everything from chilly limbos to lush gardens of delight, but modern humans have a problem the ancients never needed to consider: what becomes of our online selves when we die?
It’s a question that’s growing more and more pressing with every passing year. On Facebook alone, more than 30 million accounts now belong to the dead, and with an average of three Facebookers dying every single minute, the ranks of the dead continue to swell. Facebook’s given next of kin the ability to review and delete accounts of lost loved ones, but since they also provide an option to convert the profiles of those who have passed on into “memorial pages,” it’s small wonder that some folks project Facebook will have more dead users than live ones by the middle of the twenty-first century.
Facebook’s not the only component to a person’s digital afterlife, of course. It’s small beer compared to the email accounts, Instagram snapshots, Youtube videos, and all those pithy, poignant tweets that will linger on indefinitely without the proper authorization for removal. And that’s downright generous compared to some sites such as Yahoo!, whose accounts aren’t transferable. The company owns the account and everything in it when the holder shuffles off their mortal coil. The best the owner’s loved ones can do is request the account be closed.
Not everyone wants to see their online self vanish after death, however. Some digital afterlife services allow users to save key files, passwords, and special instructions for their loved ones and pass them along once they’re gone. For those more concerned with immortality of another kind, LifeNaut gives its clients the ability to upload a sample of their DNA to create the ultimate personal backup file.
Preparing for the afterlife is something we all have to face. But as technology advances and more and more of this is spent online, it may soon come to pass that the window into the great beyond will be just a click away.
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