Digi Domi

Sharing my passion for technology and learning.

‘@Lilly_Stardust has passed away’ (a musing not a notification)

on September 13, 2012

I was just eating a lovely blueberry muffin when a slightly morbid thought popped into my head, will my Last Will and Testament include a page of logins?

My grandfather past away at the end of August, and my parents have been left with his address book so they can contact his friends and family located across the globe, who would not have seen the notice of his passing in the local newspaper. But it has made me think, my address book is mostly contained within my social media accounts. Therefore will my Will have to contain a page of usernames and passwords for Facebook, Twitter, Google, Hotmail etc. so that my family can contact those connections of mine far away? Could there some day be a tweet that says ‘@Lilly_Stardust has passed away’?

And once the statuses have been updated and messages posted, what then? Would my family simply delete my presence? Or would they keep them as a sort of digital grave stone, where those who can not make it to my physical burial location can leave digital flowers and cards and come to remember me? Which one would I prefer?

Of course all of this hangs on me still using social media when I pass, and as I am hoping to live at least into my 80’s this gives me several decades left to live. It is entirely possible that Facebook will not live as long as me. But surely it would be replaced with some other form of digital communication that requires passwords and usernames (if we did move to DNA or finger print technology to log in to services that could bring about some very morbid situation indeed!)

When I was 16 I did in fact exchange password details with my best friend, in order that if one of us were to die the other could turn their mySpace page (that makes me sound older than I’d like) into a digital memorial with pictures and respond to any condolences messages left. Now my online presence is even bigger, and with the growth of social media,
I am even more interconnected with others. If I go it is not just my own profile pages effected. If all my accounts were deleted today, what about the documents I had shared with others via Google Docs, Dropbox, ISSU, Prezi or SlideShare? What about all of my pictures shared on social networking sites, Flickr and Picasa? Many of these are no longer stored on a physical hard-drive they exist entirely in the cloud. Do I really want to think that when I die, everything just goes?

Perhaps my family could simply re-purpose or rename my accounts? Which makes me think of the fake Bruce Willis/ iTunes story. The whole time I was thinking, why would he have to sue Apple to leave his iTunes collection to his family, could he not simply give them the login details and let them continue to use that account? Are Apple really going to keep track of the obituaries so they can delete accounts as soon as the associated user dies? That would be a very depressing department.

I guess as with my grandfather, now that he is gone there is little he can do to control what my parents and uncle do with anything he has left behind.  But it is strange to think about that final tweet, the very last ‘@ tag’…

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