Food for thought

by Jeanne on July 14, 2004

in Food for thought

So you have arrived in the 21st Century. You have registered your profile on Friends Reunited. You have an on-line bank account. You have one or more webmail accounts. Hell, you even have a food blog and a blogger profile.

And tomorrow morning, as you are stepping out of your lovely home to walk through the park and pick up some freshly baked pain-aux-chocolat from the friendly baker… OK, OK, I know. Fantasising again…. Tomorrow morning as you are standing on the edge of the pavement gripping your overpriced Starbucks latte and fretting about being late for your soul-numbing job, you slip and fall in front of a big red London bus. Do not pass go, do not collect £200. Instantly you join the Big Blogosphere in the Sky.

But nobody told your online presence that its flesh-and-bone counterpart was never coming back. So your user profile, your site, your pictures, in fact your entire cyber existence, carries right on as if nothing happened – you just tend not to post to your blog any more ;-). Your friends and family are unlikely to know your passwords and can’t access your accounts to terminate them, so they are faced with the upsetting prospect of encountering cyber-you on the Web long after you have shuffled off this mortail coil. I still have occasion to log onto some of my late mother’s on-line services and it always gives me a queasy feeling to see the cheery “Hi Marita! Welcome back to XYZ!” message.

I have never given much thought to the problem of cyber-identities outliving their mortal counterparts. It is a bit like gazing up at a star and not knowing that the starlight may come from a star that exploded millions of years ago and no longer exisis. But I guess that as bloggers, it is something to which we should all give some thought. Here is the article that I read and which inspired this post – and I think it should be required reading for anyone who maintains any sort of on-line presence.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronni July 14, 2004 at 8:03 pm

The idea of removing one’s online presence – before or after death – is like privacy; that horse has already left the barn. Our pages are cached on so many sites, on so many computers, there is not a chance. Who says we’re not immortal?

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Jeanne July 16, 2004 at 5:01 pm

It does seem to be the closest we are going to get to immortality on this planet… without resorting to cryongenics!!
I agree that actually removing all trace of one’s on-line presence would be well nigh impossible. I was thinking more along the lines of putting passwords to my online stuff in an envelope with my will, to be opened in the (I hope far distant!) event of my demise, so that at least someone could e.g. close my internet banking account or post to this blog to say I have not just lost interest in posting, I have actually taken my leave of this world!

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