The Digital Aspects Of Dying

May 4, 2016

My family and I are currently dealing with the decline and impending death of an elderly parent. And, as we begin to get things organized, I have been thinking about things.

Each of us, across the span of our limited lives, accumulates stuff. All kinds of things -- t-shirts, TVs, ping pong tables, coffee makers … you name it. And when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, as the bard has Hamlet say, we leave it all behind.

Not just the physical objects but also, and increasingly so, “digital objects” of all kinds and configurations: folders upon folders of unlabeled JPEG photographs, illegally downloaded mp3s, Facebook profiles, RPG avatars, and un-opened emails residing in the cloud.

In order to contend with this, we will need to appoint executors for our digital assets. These executors will have to be provided passwords, login details, and instructions on how to dispose of or dispense with our digital remains.

And there are difficult questions here: Should they delete your avatar or sell it on the open market? Do they keep your Facebook page active or take it down? Do they Tweet your death to your followers? It’s definitely complicated. But don’t worry, there are web services ready to capitalizing on your anxiety.

I can, for instance, open an account at Dead Social that will help me organize my digital objects, provide instructions to my digital executor, and even post a series of status updates informing my Facebook friends of my passing.

Alas … Dying used to be so simple.

I’m David Gunkel, and that’s my perspective