It’s been rather a mournful week one way or another, and I’ve been thinking of melancholy things.
Last week, I received the annual automated email reminding me of a friend’s birthday. My friend died a few years ago, but I can’t bring myself to turn off the notifications. They arrive in my mailbox year on year, complete with the same silly joke he made, and I almost love that remembrance of his personality, his spark.
He would have been thirty on Monday. (Consider donating to Cancer Research here).
I also logged into FriendsReunited recently. It’s probably been about a year and a half since I was last there, and I was greeted by an update about an old school classmate I know to be dead.
Because I have no more sense than to fill my head with morbid thoughts, I fell to pondering this…
What will happen to our online identities when our physical ones are gone?
It occurred to me that no one else on the planet has the locations of the profiles, passwords or identities I employ on the net. This information is stored only in my head, and I would imagine I’m not alone in this. Has it ever occurred to you to say to your best beloved,
“Dearest, in the event of my death, you’ll probably want to close down my Tumblr / Friendfeed / Bebo account. I’d so hate for you to be searching the internet and stumble over something upsetting to remind you of your loss in a moment of vulnerability. My master key is…”
Of course not! You’ve not even made a will, for the love of god. You find income tax a terrifying struggle. But we will all have to start to consider this, as online property becomes increasingly valuable and our sense of our identity on the web becomes less a fad and more a simple necessity, a requirement for modern living.
Will our estates have to appoint a digital executor to trawl the web deleting our accounts; untagging our photographs; searching out long unused blogs and unfriending our connections?
Or will they remain, these digital ghost ships, drifting through cyberspace, haunting the web forever?