Social media and death

Today I am very pleased to have Ken Mueller participate in my ghost in the post series. I met Ken through, whom else but Gini Dietrich. Ken is also in a tribe I inhabit and is a very creative and prolific writer. This is an interesting post indeed and I think it will certainly give you pause for thought; enjoy.

Let’s talk about death, shall we?

Not to be morbid, and it is a rather unpleasant topic, but one I was asked to think about when a local newspaper reporter asked to interview me about social media and death. The gist of the interview, at least at the beginning, was what happens to our social properties when we die. Obviously if we pass on, our Facebook, Twitter, and other online entities live on.

Not too long ago a friend of ours from another state passed away after a battle with cancer. He actually had blogged through the process, which not only provided him with a cathartic way of processing his situation, but despite his condition, his hopeful tone helped his friends and family deal with his eventual death. His family has left his Facebook page in place, and friends and family continue to use it as an ongoing online memorial to him.

And now that Facebook is converting to a newer timeline interface, our pages can be virtual scrapbooks, and even headstones, if you will, once we die. Living time capsules which can be visited by loved ones, in much the same way we might visit a grave site in a cemetery. Writing on the wall of a deceased person seems, to me, at least, a bit more meaningful or real, than talking to a tombstone.

Since Social Media is relatively new in the whole scheme of things, most of us haven’t thought about it in relation to death, particularly our own. After all, we’re all going to die.

Everything we post online is a permanent reminder of who we are, or were. Pre-Social Media, our legacy was determined by what we did and how others chose to record our life. Now, we are writing and sharing our own legacy and obituary every day. Every update, every post, every photo, becomes a lasting part of who we are, for better or for worse.

If that’s the case, what should we do and why should we care?

  1. Think before you post – Our lives will no longer be boiled down to a short summary in the paper known as an obituary. Those are usually written by people who love us and choose to highlight only our best and brightest moments and achievements. But with Social Media, we are writing our legacy and obituary every day. If we live a less than exemplary life, no amount of sugar-coating will change our perception of you. We’re pretty darn close to living out the Truman Show every day in our own lives.
  1. Plan for the inevitable – What happens after you die? We write wills and come up with plans for the disposition of our estate, but what about our Facebook pages or Twitter accounts? Do we still want people writing on our walls? That’s a decision we each need to make, and perhaps should make sure that a spouse, parent, or someone else, ultimately has access to our log-in information. Do we care what happens? Or do we want them to make those decisions based on how they feel after our passing?
  1. Will you continue to be social after you’re gone? – I’ve actually joked a bit about the fact that I have a few plug-ins installed on my website that will keep me tweeting even after I’m gone. I actually think that’s kind of funny, but for those who follow me on Twitter, as well as friends and family, I suppose it could be a bit morbid or disconcerting. And of course followers who don’t know that I’m gone, might continue to try to engage me. Do we really want to have dead people tweeting and posting updates, whether they are automated or not?

So think about your online presence, both in terms of how you present yourself, how you want to be remembered, and also how you want your online profiles to be maintained (or not) after you’re gone.

Is the obituary you are writing every day really how you want others to remember you?

Ken Mueller is the owner of Inkling Media, a Social Media consultancy in Lancaster, PA. He can often be found working from his porch with his dog, Shadow. And unlike his beloved Phillies and Eagles, he is very much alive. 

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71 thoughts on “Social media and death

  1. Hi Ken, Very interesting article. I have thought about this quite a bit because I have three friends on Facebook who have died. All died tragically young, all unexpectedly, but their Facebook accounts live on in memorium. I find it unsettling when there is an update or a birthday reminder from their accounts. I forget for a moment that they are gone never to return.

    But Facebook is a wonderful way for others to pay tribute to a person and I’m very glad their sites endure.

    Honestly, I hadn’t thought about leaving instructions about my Facebook and Twitter pages in my will, but that’s a good idea. I would like to have my Facebook pages live on after I’m gone, though the Triberr tweets from my Twitter account would seem quite odd, as you point out.

    Your best advice is to remember that what you post may live longer than you do, so post wisely!

    Thanks, Bill, for having Ken as a guest author! He and I can commiserate about Philadelphia teams. 🙂

    • Our Philadelphia teams bring us to the brink of death on a regular basis, Carolyn!

      I think the hardest part about leaving instructions for after you die is that often our passwords change, and you can put the passwords somewhere, but what if you change them before then? Could be difficult.

      • You’re right, Ken. In one of those Facebook situations I mentioned before, the family wanted to delete the Facebook account but didn’t have the password. They eventually became glad they didn’t delete the account.

        You can try to get the password from Facebook by presenting the death certificate, but it’s neither easy nor guaranteed successful.

    • It’s funny you mention the endless stream of Triberr tweets. I know of 2 people that were very active in social and now they are just ‘gone’. Fortunately, they are still among the living, but they are totally gone from social. However, I see them every day posting someone else’s post through Triberr.

      It’s probably something people don’t give a lot of thought to, but not that much different than a will. Most people don’t even take the time to do that. However, with social it will certainly live on and on and on and on…………….

      Ken makes a good point about what your ‘legacy’ will be and what your site says about you when you are gone. I hope my legacy is ‘he really was much cooler than he appeared’…………..:)

      Good to see you bright and early and thanks for taking the time to stop by today.

  2. Ken, I really haven’t given this topic much thought, I must admit. On the one hand, I do sort of get a kick out of the idea of someone’s Tweet Old Post running long after they are gone, but I think you are right, it’s probably a bit inconsiderate of those who do not know you have passed. Also, why add to the noise at that point?

    Here’s another question: will the platforms begin to address this issue through their terms of service, as more and more deceased people have social media accounts and footprints?

    Nice to see you at Bill’s place, Ken! Good food for thought all around.

    • Thanks, Adam. personally, I kinda want to add to the noise. I want to live on on Twitter long after I’m gone. I mean, it’s only fitting for me…

      I know it is possible to deal with Facebook after someone has died, but again, it’s not something they think about from the platform end, but as older demographics join, the place will become a virtual graveyard over time. They will have to address it.

      • I’m thinking there is a movie in there somewhere………..in the year 2097 and the earth has been virtually decimated w/ few survivors and you are digging through FB to see if you can find any signs of life……….

    • How do you know when someone has passed on? Me being the joking type I might send out some funny SOS wondering where you are and you really are gone. The people I know locally probably wouldn’t be sending out any ‘I sure miss that guy’ posts, so I guess I would probably just disappear.

      Because you can have a junkyard of dormant accounts; especially the people with multiple accounts, I wonder if it will get to the point where the social platforms will have to clean house. Or, is the capacity to live on forever is really endless?

      A whole different arena, huh?

  3. Wow, I have never thought about what happens to your facebook or blog when you die.
    In my close surroundings those who have died recently have all been to un-updated to use social media.

    I can see how visiting an olds friends facebook and looking through his/her old comments would be very rewarding.

    • Well, looky here; so it took Mr Mueller to get you back over here, huh?…………..:)

      I hope you have been well; it certainly does give you pause for thought. However, when you are gone I don’t think social will be on your ‘to do’ list of things you still worry about. Having said that however, I would like my legacy to be a favorable impression.

      Good to see you and thanks for stopping by Daniel.

      • I’ve known a number of people who have died, and their Facebook page has definitely become that digital grave site which is not confined by geography. Just recently saw a friend of mine post a tribute to an older gentleman who had been instrumental in her life as a photography teacher. I went to his page, and it was filled with so many comments from students all over the country. That wouldn’t have been possible pre-social media. Also, I imagine some of those folks might have gone weeks or months without even knowing the man had died, but social media allowed the news to spread quickly. His page became a unifying factor in their lives. I imagine some of those paying tribute knew each other, but hadn’t been connected for a long time.

  4. Hi Ken, Hi BIll!
    This is a very interesting topic. I like how you say: with Social Media, we are writing our legacy and obituary every day. Gives one pause, doesn’t it!?
    You just put more things on my (looooong ) To Do List. Leaving passwords etc with my estate information and thinking about what I want for my blog etc after I’m gone.
    Interesting times we live in!
    Lori

    • My wife actually reads my post, so maybe she can figure out how to do a ‘last will and testament’ post, huh? She can ask if anybody owes me money, please send it in; and if that deadbeat owes any money, this number has been disconnected.

      That’s probably a good idea that in addition to making a list of not only where everything is and what to do scenario, but also include accounts and passwords just to clean everything up.

      It does make you think and especially if you are one several social platforms.

      The new norm is changing every day I believe. Thanks for stopping by; am I famous yet?

      • Hey Lori, thanks for stopping by. So far I have only made my wife an admin on my FB page for my business, but I do need to at least write down the basic passwords. Another way of doing it would be to make sure all of your accounts are tied to one email address. That way, if all your loved ones know is your email password, they can then gain access to everything else through a password reset or something like that.

  5. Interesting topic, though possibly there are some other directions it might have been approached from with equal potential.

    I’ve got a pile of wood across the meadow and have given instructions to the people who own the place that my carcass should be placed on it, covered with wood from a second pile, then set fire when there’s no danger of it spreading to the woods nearby. Background music instructions: “I fell into a burning ring of fire” by Johnny Cash.

    I tend to think we spend so much time and attention avoiding thinking about the actuality and inevitability of death we end up taking it far too seriously. Just my opinion.

    • I like it; going out in a blaze of glory. That would be so cool………….I prefer body to carcass though, that just sounds so callous……………:)

      Yes, it is inevitable we will leave this place at some time; I don’t dwell on it and just prefer to deal with each individual time as it occurs. It’s all about the circle of life, so enjoy the time above ground as much as possible; live with no regrets.

      Thanks for coming by to see Ken; I thought this a very interesting post indeed.

    • I agree, Jules, we need to think about it more often. But it is an unpleasant topic for most. We’ve been discussing this a lot with my parents because of their age and health situation, figuring out what is going to be done with their funerals, possessions, etc. Talking about these things can be sad because it forces you to think about life “after” they are gone.

      And yes, we should enjoy what we have here and now. Live life. Do what makes you happy.

  6. I think about death every day (as you know Bill) and I know one thing for sure: life is for the living. I find it very funny for people to make requests of their loved ones concerning their property and accounts after they’re gone. I think it’s a control issue that people have because they’re afraid of becoming irrelevant. The memorials, funerals and accounts that loved ones keep active are really for us, the living. I’m absolutely sure that those who have passed have better things to do and probably wish we did too. LOL! I’d give someone my login info just to spread the word that I was gone. There would really be no their way for a lot of my friends to find out because it wouldn’t be on the nightly news!
    Don’t you think it would be a lot more fun to get to now people before they croaked? That’s what social media is all about.

    • I think I will have a tweet up at my passing………..I would like to leave some type of legacy, but it doesn’t have to be memorials or buildings named after me; more like how I positively affected someone’s life who inspired them to affect another and so on and so on. In a way, good bad or indifferent, or family history and how we managed to make it to where we are today is a legacy in and of itself, huh?

      Yes, I think the dead would say; please, rejoice because I sure am now. Live life to the fullest, don’t hold back because it is so fleeting.

      Of course, there are ways to make the nightly news but I don’t think any of them are desirable as far as a way of leaving this earth, so I prefer the anonymity.

      Good idea in getting to know the people now and yes, that is what social is all about.

      Good to see you, thanks for stopping by to say hi to Ken.

      • I like your thinking, Betsy. Get to know people now. And you’re right, Social Media is perfect for that. I know that most of my current circle of friends are people who first met me via social media, which of course makes it even more relevant of a topic. When I’m gone, the social realm is where they will still be. And I want those people to be able to stop by my FB wall and tell me, once I’m gone, what I meant to them.

        Which makes me think, we don’t do enough of that in the here and now. We need to spend some time telling people about the positive impact they’ve had on our lives while they are still alive. Afterwards, it’s more for us. Now, it’s for them.

  7. Hey Ken (and Bill)!

    Wow, thanks for the morbid post so early in my day! Just kidding. Like others here, I haven’t thought much about my online presence once I’m gone. I do like the idea of using the space as a memorial. There are funeral homes that offer online scrapbooks and “walls” to write on where you can share fond memories of the deceased.

    The whole concept made me think of something else. When I was a little girl I had to do a school project on my family tree and talk to my grandmother about what her parents were like. At that time, there was no other way for me to find out that information but to go from her memories. My great-grandkids will be able to Google me and pull stuff from all of my social media accounts. Freaky!

    • Of course, that’s provided your peeps share fond memories; I told my wife to put a hold on the comments so she can decide to approve or not before publishing……..

      Before all this social came about, I too had the chance to talk w/ my great aunt and my grandmother (born in 1898) and learn about their parents and grandparents which I thought was pretty cool. Now, we are leaving our own legacy and our descendants will have a much clearer picture of what we were all about, huh?

      That’s why I will just keep saying nice things and not try to be some A-hole….:)

      So good to see you Alicia, thanks so much for stopping by to see Ken. I hope your day is going well for you.

      • Hey Alicia, thanks for stopping by. You need to come to the porch some day! It’s interesting you mention the Funeral homes that do that. I think that’s a great idea, but as long as it is on their website, it is somehow less accessible. I think when something like that is on Facebook, or some other social platform, it is easier for others to find, since they are already on Facebook. Additionally, I think that perhaps Funeral homes should use their online presence to link to someone’s FB page, if that is acceptable to the family, or even work with the family to create a FB memorial page. Hmmmm. A new business opportunity.

        I just also realized that FB might be the best platform for this. When you write to the person, you are writing on their wall. On Twitter, if you tweet @ some dead person, it’s not on a “wall” per se, but…just a tweet out to the masses. Could seem kinda weird, eh?

  8. I have a similar experience to Carolyn, I know several people who have died but their Facebook pages live on.

    I am guessing that I have written about 12,000 posts or so. They aren’t all on TheJackB but most are. I don’t know what people would think about my online obituary and I honestly don’t care.

    A lot of my fiction sounds like it could be real and that blurring of the line is intentional. My family and friends know who I am and what I am about. I don’t think that it is bad idea to be aware that what we blog/tweet and share can last forever. It is something that people should think about.

    I just know that for me I am cool with things as they are.

    • Me too; I don’t think I’ve posted anything that would cause shame for my family. In fact, it might be kind of cool for future generations being able to dig family history out like this. Maybe that will be the big thing in the future, being able to sort all your social platforms into one specific source so family history research can be done.

      When we’re gone, we’re gone so I guess I won’t be worrying too much about it either.

      Interesting though and as time progresses this will certainly occur more often.

      Thanks for coming by to say hi to Ken.

      • I’m the same way. I am who I am. I think that speaks a lot to the idea of authenticity online. Be real. Be who you are. Granted, if you’re a jerk in real life, you’ll probably be a jerk online as well, but your friends won’t expect anything different.

        When people meet me for the first time, I want them to recognize me not by my looks, but by the way I engage with them. It should be the same as when we engage online: demeanor, attitude, sense of humor, etc. Let your personality shine thru, with some filters of course!

  9. Death and social media makes for an unusual and interesting topic. Way to go, Ken. That’s going deep. At least six feet in a manner of speaking. [grin]

    I have seen online memorials and memorial “guest books”. But they are off the beaten path and I imagine that they lose relevance over time. Myself, I didn’t bookmark the ones that I have visited and signed. Nor did I return.

    Yet it is naïve to think Facebook or Twitter will be enduring platforms fit for never ending narratives. They are businesses. Worse, they are online businesses. In other words, here today, gone tomorrow.

    20+ years ago, I remember putting dozens of my sonnets on Prodigy and Compuserve. All are gone. Prodigy, Compuserve, and my sonnets. Those social networks aren’t even significant memories in themselves.

    I would be surprised if Facebook and Twitter were around in 20 years – not to mention that the hard drives upon which our data is stored has an average life cycle of three years.

    That doesn’t mean there can’t be a start up that can provide such a service. $10,000 for a one hundred year online memorial. $25,000 for one thousand years. Service starts with a downpayment of $1,000. Monthly payments starting at $15 on a 100 year payment plan. Variable fees not included. Beyond technological and technical challenges, the greatest challenge will be how to make online memorials relevant to the living online community.

    This could be the start up that makes you a multi-millionaire. Or a dozen of us in five years.

    Recently on my blog: Blog Soup 2011.10.13. http://wp.me/pbg0R-s9

    • 20 years, huh? It will be interesting to see what it is in 10 years. However, it will certainly be more readily available than the information we have digging up family history now from 100 yrs ago.

      Of course a business model at those prices we will probably have to start higher end, but it could be like a phone plan and the competition will come in with ever and ever decreasing costs. Plus you would probably have to share your memorial to get a better rate……………:)

      Thanks for stopping by Stan, when Ken told me he was going to write about this I thought it would be interesting. I really thought it would get more dialogue going but I guess death is still one of those topics that most would soon not discuss.

      Hope you have a great weekend.

      • I”m not sure a startup in this area is the way to go. I think, as I mentioned in an earlier reply, the best bet would be for Funeral homes and families to work within the existing Framework. At this point, I’m not convinced, despite the MySpace story, that either Facebook or Twitter are going anywhere.

        I would never go with the pay now for a thousand years model. Because who is around to hold them accountable? That doesn’t even work in cemeteries. i’ve seen people promised a certain amount of aftercare for their headstones and plots, only to have that type of care reduced or cut down the line due to economy and budget cuts. On Facebook, it’s there. And you don’t have to pay for it. It’s certainly something for Facebook to think about!

  10. Hey Ken, great to see you here at Bill’s place.

    This topic is one that’s close to mind as (shameless plug for my brother here) my brother’s book, “Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker in Canada” was recently listed in the top 10 non-fiction books in Canada, and is being nominated for “Canada Reads.” Maybe not big stuff for those of you in the States, but BIG stuff here. OK…shameless plug for my bro is now over.

    I’m confident that everything I’ve written, I stand behind (or will eventually lie behind, over or on:) I’ve been acutely aware of what I post, to the point that, up until recently, I didn’t even share photos of my family.

    I’m with Betsy on the fact that, anything that’s done when one is gone is done for the living. On that note, I am now sending all of my passwords and instructions to Bill. I’m sure you’ll take good care of my legacy, right Bill?

    Ken, you always make me think…that is, when you’re not making me LMAO about bacon:) Cheers! Kaarina

    • You know I have your back; however, hopefully there are some passwords to some good stuff too……………just sayin’…………..

      Do you think they will come out w/ a translated version of your brother’s book for us in the US? I would love to read it.

      This was definitely a different topic and almost taboo like politics and religion. I guess some people feel if they don’t talk about it, it will always be that other guy it happens to, huh?

      Good to see you, hope your travel out and about the last few days was productive. I also hope you have a great weekend.

      • First off, I am sooooo jealous that you’ll be spending Monday hobnobbing (do they have that word in US?) Jeez…a party and I’m not there, no fair:(

        I am sending you the “good stuff” passwords encrypted, under the cone of silence:)

        I shall translate my brother’s book, haha. Shameless plug again…”Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker in Training” by Tom Jokinen, Random House publisher.

        Travel was good, with good results from my Mentoring group meeting and wisdom exchange. Awesome group of business owners, entrepreneurs and experienced mentors.

        Tell Gini you can have my drink:) Cheers! Kaarina

    • I wish it was a trip you were making too; I’m looking forward to it. I’m guessing w/ Gini’s semi-celebrity status she will be working the room and everyone will want some of her time but it will be good to see her. I will be working the room for the non-drinkers who don’t want their drink tickets…………..:)

      • Man, I wish I were able to make that trip as well, but I’m stuck here working on English translations of all of Anne Murray’s old songs. A lot harder since I lost my Canadian to English dictionary.

        Thanks for stopping by, Kaarina, and I promise to serve bacon at my funeral, both of the American AND Canadian variety

  11. Hi Ken…what an interesting topic. I have had a similar conversation about death and social media with my husband…but the tack that we took was more about how our social media communities are so much larger than our IRL communities and that when we die, our death will impact so many more than it did before social media. Think about your SoMe friends and relationships. We are creating such close relationships with people who live hundreds of miles away and we will be devastated to learn of their passing. There are many people that I communicate with almost daily here on the blogosphere as well as on the traditional SoMe platforms and I can’t imagine my day without many of them. Just as the definition of friendship has experienced a huge sociological shift so will the response to death shift from a sociological perspective. Thanks for a really thought provoking post, Ken
    Claudia

    • Will it be a tweet up instead of a funeral?

      Our reach is much, much broader than our own little IRL community. Social has changed the dynamics of the relationship. Much has been written as to whether the relationships are real or not, but they sure seem and feel very real to me.

      Ever wonder what kind of tribute you would get; are you high enough up the chain for the 3-5 day version or will you be down there like me and somebody wanting to know if they can have my shoes, since I’m not going to be wearing them anymore?

      What is a SoMe platform? I don’t know of that………

      Good to see you Claudia, thanks for coming by (again)…………:)

      • Hi Bill….
        A tweet up instead of a funeral…you know, you might be on to something 😉

        …and I am definitely not up there in the social media hierarchy to warrant the 3-5 day version 😉 Within a week people will be saying “Claudia who??”

        And, I am sorry about the SoMe reference…that was kind of snobby rude of me…it just means Social Media platforms…like Facebook and Twitter…sorry.
        Claudia

      • I love your thinking, Claudia, and that’s something that was in the back of my mind as I wrote this, but never really let it out of my head and to my fingers. My circle of friends is really interesting online. People I have met online whom I’ve never met in person. Old friends from HS, College, and previous jobs, whom I would have lost track of in the pre-SM days. Our world is expanding and shrinking at the same time, and it’s pretty exciting. And yes, many of those have actually become pretty deep relationships, as we spend time chatting with them online or on the phone or Skype. I think my family will be surprised when I’m gone, and they look at my FB page and say…who ARE all these people???

    • I hear ya; I might be lucky to fill a phone booth at my funeral………….:)

      See, I can still be a social media dummy and not know the acronyms; I had no idea of what SoMe was but now I do, yay. Insurance has a lot of acronyms and you have to be careful not to overuse them when talking with customers.

  12. Hey Ken,

    Well you’ve definitely gotten me to thinking now. I never gave this much consideration. Oh, I do have the will in place, did that eleven years ago after a friend passed away so unexpectedly and at too young of an age. Our laws are pretty strict here in Texas so certainly didn’t want all my possessions going to the state should something suddenly happen to me. But my social media accounts, I didn’t have them when I did the will.

    In all honestly, none of my family members are into social media so they would have no desire to keep them up. I really don’t know if I want people to continue posting things on my wall after I’m gone. I find that kind of unsettling myself. Maybe it would give them comfort, I honestly don’t know. I might have to give that more thought now.

    I appreciate you sharing this with us, this was totally unexpected I might add. But a good unexpected so thanks. You’ve just given me so much more to think about now.

    • It was very unexpected to me as well, but thought it would definitely be a thought provoking post.

      The couple of friends I have in social who have passed away, I have not been able to ‘visit’ their site. It makes it feel too much like they are still here and I know they are not. So yes, somewhat unsettling but that’s why a post like this makes you think about it.

      As an aside, if you are thinking of leaving all your stuff to the state of Texas, it will be ok with me if you want to list my name instead of them…………..:).

      Death is inevitable; but let’s hope it is a long time in the future and enjoy our time among the living as richly and fully as we can. Do I have a second on that?

      Good to see you; thanks for the visit.

      • Hey Adrienne, thanks for stopping by. I think this actually opens up a whole new area of law and digital law. I’m sure there have already been some cases where people have fought over who owns the online properties of someone who has died. And it will be interesting to see if an 11 year old will covers this sort of thing, whether it is mentioned or not. Certainly if you acquire new wealth or possessions after you have written the will, they are covered. Will the courts see digital “property” the same way?

        I would imagine from an e-commerce standpoint, they would, if a website that earns money continues to earn money. Hmmm.

  13. Ken,

    Congrats on earning a guest spot at Bill Dorman’s famous hangout 🙂 He’s a chips and beer guy, so that’s good.

    This is a very thought provoking post, but I gotta admit, it kind of creeped me out. I mean none of us really want to be reminded that no one gets out of here alive, do we? I know I’m going to die, I just try not to think about it too much 🙂 Death is inevitable. I’ve completed my will, and now I have to worry about this?

    I honestly have not thought about this too much, but we sure are leaving our legacy, our digital footprint every day, whether we like it or not. Pretty soon all our vital information will be in the cloud anyway, right?

    I wonder if some future family member in the year 2112 will be able to look back, using the computer chip implanted in their brain … discover my archives and learn about Great, Great, Great Grandpa McBreen. What an old codger he was. For some reason the curmudgeonly old fella was always talking to this social media kingpin by the name of Bill Dorman. They had to look into a screen, use a keyboard, and used some silly static image called an avatar WTF?

    • Yeah, we don’t want it to seem we are all just sitting around on a death watch counting our days; not something I want to over think either.

      It would be interesting to see what the retrieval methods are in 100 yrs. 100+ years ago it was fires and floods destroying records; what great calamity exposure will there be in 2111? Will the aliens have invaded and they are tracking our relatives through cyber?

      If you want your relatives to think you were pretty cool, maybe you also start embellishing some of your stories, huh?

      One thing I do know, when I’m gone I don’t think I will be worrying about any of it.

      Thanks for coming by Craig; I think Ken will be back sometime today.

      • It is kind of interesting to see how different folks approach this. Some see it as creepy, others, like me, think about it, but it doesn’t bother me. It takes a lot to creep or gross me out.

        But…we are gonna die. I guess it comes down to two things:

        1) Do we care about what happens to our stuff after we die?

        and

        2) Do we care about the wishes of our loved ones after they die?

        As someone pointed out earlier, much of what happens after we die is more for the living than the dead. Burial vs. cremation. Open vs. closed casket. Those are decisions that can have a very profound impact on friends and family, in a variety of ways. I imagine in years to come, what we do with our digital legacy will have an equally profound impact.

  14. Love when Ken is in the house.

    I don’t care about my digital legacy. But I care about my Digital here and now.

    So few of us will ever exist after death beyond a generations memories (sad but true). Drive by every cemetery and I bet you know nothing of anyone in there…every single time.

    I just find the idea of this kind of morbid because we don’t have a shut the lights off see ya later button.

    But I will say of interest Dr. Timothy Leary invented Facebook timeline. Yes LSD Guru himself. Before he died he started to create his digital legacy (I want to say late 90’s so truly ground breaking). http://leary.com/

    • Interesting and so true about memories being lost w/in a generation. However, I wonder if digital allows that to extend somewhat. I have done some genealogical research into my family and have visited some obscure cemeteries. But it’s going to be family who is really the only one who has an interest.

      Timothy Leary the LSD guru; I will check that out.

      I wonder is the internet will get like space junk and you will have all these abandoned sites clogging up the airwaves.

      Good to see you Howie. If the NL Central was the weak league, how is it they are going to represent in the World Series, huh?

      • Hey Howie, good to see you here. Perhaps some day we’ll have the option of a shut the lights off button. A kill switch, if you will. That could certainly be part of our will, I guess.

        And true, the here and now is much more important.

  15. This really got me thinking. I haven’t thought much about death and social media. I have thought a lot about death since I’m writing a novel about a serial killer.

    Death and social media reminds me of the horrific incident in Norway this summer, when a man murdered 69 kids on an island. One of the kids lived in Halden, the town where I live. She was 16 years old when she was murdered. Her FB-page lived on, and I’m not sure, but I still think that her friends and family are publishing their thoughts to her page. This happens when they visit her grave, when they think about her. This is part of their mourning process. They talk to her this way.

    When you write about social media as an obituary. It would be awesome if we could use AWeber (an auto responder) and set up a sequence that will be sent out to all our friends after we die. Someone just need to send out the squeeze page (or do something for it to happen, since we don’t know exactly when we’re dying). This way, our messages can be sent out “forever”, and it would be like we’re talking to people every single week for many years from now 🙂

    • It is still unsettling to see someone’s page after they are gone. I have two friends who have passed but I know where to still find them on social. In fact, one followed me on twitter and I have just left it like it is; I saw no reason to unfollow yet.

      Most people don’t want to talk about death because I think they might be afraid it will hasten their demise or something………..:). It is inevitable just like taxes, huh?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it was a ‘different’ topic, that is for sure.

      • I think it’s unsettling, but also somewhat comforting. What IS unsettling is when I go to LinkedIn and I see someone who has passed in the list of people I might know and might want to connect with. If someone is unaware that the person has died, they might try to connect, which I assume triggers an email that the surviving spouse might eventually get.

        and, on Facebook, when I play Words with Friends, and that person is also someone who is listed as a suggested opponent. Pretty sure I don’t want to click that button!

  16. Ken, it’s a pleasure to meet you – I don’t know all of Bill’s friends yet, because he’d accuse me of stalking 😉

    I actually wrote a guest post about awareness in social media at Danny Brown’s house, here’s the link if you wish to check it out:

    http://dannybrown.me/2011/10/11/can-social-media-make-you-truly-happy/

    I adopted a similar stance to you, that what we use social media for defines who we are and what we become. It’s getting value out of social media that I’m more interested in, rather than widgets and gizmos.

    It’s interesting to think that social media profiles become a sort of ‘graveyard’ for those that have unfortunately passed on – as Jens said earlier about the Norwegian girl, her friends and families leave their thoughts and wishes on her profile as a way of remembering her.

    I think this is touching, and a good way for those who can’t get to the grave to leave their thoughts. Perhaps social media is taking on more uses than first thought?

    • As more and more pass, you will probably see someone use this opportunity as a business model and set something up to make it easier to maintain and locate these sites so you can pay tribute. However, as many have said, these are for the living and not the dead because when you are gone, it doesn’t really matter to you.

      I would like my legacy to be a ‘good’ legacy. Somebody 50 or 100 years from now might read it and go ‘ho hum, what was all of this about’ but maybe they could see it was something I enjoyed.

      Good to see you Stu, hope you are well. Thanks for coming by to see Ken; he does a great job you should check his place out.

      • Hey Stuart, I did see your post. Good stuff.

        I really think that we have only scratched the surface of social media. Those of us on the business side of things tend to think in terms of marketing and communication, but that wasn’t the first purpose of it, nor is it why most of us are on social platforms as users. It’s for the social aspect of things. Eventually, everything we do “in real life” will be translated to the web. Heck, we have online dating, online ordering, it only fits that we should be figuring out the whole online death thing.

      • Oh, and Stu, don’t stop over my place quite yet. It’s in a bit of a state of disrepair thanks to a web host that decided to mess around and…well…try to kill it. I’m rebuilding my website as we speak, on another host, from the ground up. Couldn’t just move it because, well, I’d be moving the carcass from one place to another.

  17. Hi Ken,

    I have given that subject some thought. I even did a “Last Post” and I think that when I am gone I would want all of my social media profiles shut down as well.

    I many times think “is this something I want my son to see?” and if the answer is no, it does not go up on Twitter, Facebook or any other place. I also really think that we need to be careful with messages too. Just last week,. a former boyfriend posted a nasty message on my Facebook wall, and I heavily considered “featuring” it in my timeline, just to teach him that you should not post nasty messages on Facebook.

    In the end, I deleted the message because I want to set a good example for my son. Speaking of him, i will one day print out all of the blog posts I have written about him and give them to him maybe when he goes off to college.

    I wanted to come and comment the other day, but had no internet. Really happy to be up and able to comment again!

    • Hey, Nancy, glad you have Internet again. It’s amazing how maddening it gets when we can’t get online! We take it for granted.

      Those are good thoughts. I personally don’t want my sites shut down. Let them live on. If people want to visit them or interact with them, I’m fine with that. In the end, though, I’ll leave it up to my family. But if the Facebook page stays, I would hope people would have fun with it. Talk to me as if I were alive. Share funny jokes, videos, and stories.

      As they say once someone is gone, “He would have wanted it that way. It’s a fitting tribute”

      After all, I truly do live most of my life online.

  18. Hello gentlemen!

    Great guest post and what a creative idea/topic!

    I’ve thought a lot about how what is “out there” never really goes away and heaven knows it’s not too hard to dig up either bones or gold. 😉

    For me, I make it a point to try and be positive and an inspiration. If I share something “personal” it’s because I feel it has some meaning or merit that perhaps may be worth something to someone else. Many times, I’ve posted something or was about to and immediately deleted it because I know it was either in the heat of the moment or something that was really purposeless in the grand scheme of things.

    As far as my demise … heck I’m going out on a good note and after that, it’s of no concern to me because it won’t matter. I just want if my child or a loved one “Googles” my or my company that they find the “good stuff” because that’s the best stuff of me and my business.

    Very enjoyable post – thanks again!!

    I like your guest post-ers Mr. Dorman! Oh and whoever wrote the bio at the end of the post – that was pretty darn funny! 😉

    Much kindness,

    Elena

    • Yes, when we are gone all we have left are our memories and our online writings……yikes……:). I hope if somebody comes behind me they can see this was something I enjoyed.

      I’ll have to give Ken full credit for his bio, but he is very creative like that; make sure you stop by his place sometime.

      This was definitely a ‘different’ topic; I wasn’t sure how it would be rec’d but it seemed to do ok.

      Good to see you and thanks for stopping by; I do mention you (and others) in my post tomorrow. You might want to stop by to make sure it’s all good, huh?

      I hope your weekend went well.

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