Our Online Legacy

There’s this line from Hamilton: “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” As much as we’d all like to leave behind a memorable and remarkable legacy, the fact is, we probably won’t.

And you’re ready to tell me, don’t say that, you never know what the future holds!

Don’t bother, I’ve accepted my averageness. It’s fine.

Maybe I won’t leave a legacy fit for a history book, or even a Wikipedia page, but I still will be remembered. I know that when I die, my family and friends will mourn me, but in this day in age, so much of our lives are online too. My laptop spends an extraordinary amount of time turned on, it seems only fair that this extension of myself will be mourned too.

Several years ago I told my best friend where she’d be able to find a list of all my passwords so that if something were to happen to me, she’d be able to let my connections know. I’m sure she doesn’t remember and I’ve since moved said list so it doesn’t matter, but I still think it’s important that the idea remains.

My blog, my Twitter, my six emails accounts…They all contain my life. And every one of you reading this are a part of it. I’d hate for any friends or readers online to think I’ve just forgotten about them. I’d like to say now: y’all mean a lot.

Image result for computer heart gif

Facebook has a Legacy setting where you can pick people now to give access to your profile upon your passing. I use Facebook so insignificantly, I don’t think any friends would use it to remember me. A lot of other websites have ways of giving similar access. When I heard this information, I have to admit, I spent a few good minutes wondering if I could convince Twitter that the girl who has the @coolbeans4 handle is dead. Apparently, without any proof, I cannot.

But isn’t it weird, that one’s online presence can live on through other people? If my friend starting tweeting for me, could you tell? If someone else started blogging for me, would you notice? It seems like a creepy idea but Tony Stark basically kept Jarvis alive through AI and we just accepted that.

And you’re ready to tell me, but that’s fictional!

Is it though? Or is it…the future?

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There’s actually already sites where you can input someone’s text messages and probably other info and the computer can simulate conversation, like Replika. It was literally designed to help deal with the death of a friend in a car accident. Computers are smart, and the more info given, the more they’d be able to mimic the real style of the person.

And if that doesn’t sound like the start of the Robot Wars, then I don’t know what does.

It’s just interesting to consider. As our technology continues to grow, how we use technology to remember dead people will change as well. It’s weird that we have to plan for this already.

If you die next week (insert pause for my mother to whisper “God forbid!”), who will you leave your online presence to?


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9 thoughts on “Our Online Legacy

  1. Excellent post. But geez; on Valentine’s Day??
    I keep getting friend suggestions on Facebook and one is of a dear friend’s husband who died 18 months ago. I can’t bring myself to delete the suggestion. It’s very upsetting. Now I’m wondering if someone is keeping his account active post-mortem.

    • I know, awful timing but I was due for a post and this was the only one I had ready to go.
      Someone may be keeping that account alive but unless you want to use Facebook to remember him, I wouldn’t suggest looking into it. You might as well delete the suggestion if it’s too hard to see all the time.

    • I’ve heard Black Mirror is on the creepier side, so I read the summary of the episode instead.
      That’s really cool, and a little unsettling. I don’t think I’d want to keep someone alive in such a way…

  2. Well, i dunno, but i feel better knowing that even though we’re strangers in a real world sense, a virtual friend(s) has access to one or two of my blog spaces so at least someone could nip in and make a post if i just didn’t show up for a while and could never make it back… cos i worry a bit when people just drop off the radar, especially when they’ve seemed to be online from other parts of the world where wars and disasters might have happened… one or two might wonder what happened and care enough to worry, and like you say, miss you… and i really don’t like the idea of family coming along after one has drawn (my) last breath and saying ‘well i’m family and i want that taken off the internet cos now i’m upset/embarassed/whatever…’ That’d be awful, but once someone is ill or dead what they want don’t matter is how a LOT of people behave. Though i guess i wouldn’t be here to be upset by it anymore but people do surprising things at times of grief and for a long while after and generally people think it’s ok for bereaved family decisions to over-ride deceased individual choices – eg Emily Dickinson wanted her papers destroyed and we were never meant to read most of the poems made from her fragments that are represented as being her work. Meanwhile some really dreadful things are also said sometimes about her reclusiveness and her personal life. That’s an age old example cos i can’t remember more recent ones i’ve seen lately. Sorry if i missed replying to you here or over at mine – my notifications aren’t working and i’m not keeping up with things well. Hope your assignments aren’t too demanding and progressing good – and that you’re not having to count too many sneezes this month! stay healthy and happy! till next time, Gesundheit!

    • So you’d want a friend to continue to write for you if you were dead/unable to write? That’s interesting. I’d want my someone to write a post explaining what happened to me but after that I don’t want anyone to have to feel like they must take up the torch. Blogging takes work and it’s not everyone’s thing, but it is mine, so that can die with me! But yes, as you said, online friends/connections who just disappear is worrisome because you may never get closure, and that’s just weird.

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