How will we die online?

The first post – and straight to the last rites…

It’s well over 10 years now since I’ve been part of online communities of one sort or another. Support, discussion, campaign, “special interest”… Some of the cheery older souls I’ve known are in their 70s now. One or two may even have died. In fact, statistically, quite a few must have.

But these are still early days for this end of the market. Logging on and popping off is only going to get more popular, inevitably (in the most literal sense of the word).┬áMany of the departed have already publicly documented their decline and demise, of course – in some cases movingly and memorably (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4211475.stm).

Blogging off into the sunset has so far only been open to those who have a bit of notice: perhaps tragically young, perhaps angry, always compelling. What of the rest of us, declining at a greater or lesser rate? What protocols will evolve as an ageing generation taps ever more slowly at the keyboard, arthritic knuckles creaking away? Will it be good form to breezily claim spritely vigour, in defiance of all physical evidence? Or will it be polite to gradually warm up your network to the reality of your imminent cooling down? (Getting honest about things – which, if this site has a theme at all, could become a recurring feature here.)

And just getting the message out to those networks, particularly if it’s all a bit sudden… Will wills routinely feature a few choice URLs, or even ids and passwords? (I am reminded of the death of a friend recently: the family, doing their best to contact friends, went through the address book sending blank emails with funeral directions attached. From the deceased. That was interesting.) Has the first enterprising intermediary already set up shop? I note that www.ifyourereadingthis.com already has an owner.

We don’t know. But we’re definitely going to find out.

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6 Responses

  1. Mulqueeny says:

    Cripes, Paul! Food for thought – keep us posted on what else you find in this gory space

  2. roger andre says:

    Food for thought indeed! it is going to be important to make sure that login details are left with certain loved ones and friends, otherwise it might turn out to be almost impossible to die online. Would the likes of google etc believe someone claiming to be a reletive when they say the account holder has passed away? And would the communication between government and private online enterprise be strong enough to rely on? It would probably be best for a loved one to know your details so that you could rest in peace and die in the cyber world.

  3. Emily Clarke says:

    And what of our i-tunes account – currently residing (password-protected) on your laptop? If I lose you, do I lose them too? It’s enough to make you stamp your foot.

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