Saturday, December 17, 2011

Social Media and Death

If you were hit by a bus and you were to depart this mortal earth. What would happen to your emails, your facebook account, you twitter account?

Does your online presence suddenly become inactive and your inbox full?

Have you left instructions for your partner, children, parents or executors to act upon if something was to happen?

Are your passwords written down somewhere that is easily located?

Have you even thought about this?

I had an online friend, who had been sick for sometime, I knew that things weren’t brilliant, but I didn’t expect “D” not to be around.

I had replied to an email that had been sitting in my inbox for maybe 2 weeks, I did not receive an immediate reply, which is not unusual with online friends.

After about 3 weeks, I started trying locate “D” using the information that I had. I found out that she had belonged to various groups and subsequently I emailed said groups. I did not receive a reply.

It must have been about 2 weeks later that I received a reply from “D’s” daughter saying that “D” was no longer with us and that the email account would be shut down within a 1-2 week time-frame. I am assuming this was to allow people like myself to get answers as to why “D” was not responding emails.

The reply I received was fairly bland, just stating the facts. I suppose having known “D” online for 2-3 years, I expected something more personal. I’m not sure, but even now it leaves me sad that I didn’t have a proper chance to say goodbye – even if it was sending flowers or a card to the funeral.

I wonder what happened to “D’s” memberships to forums and the like where she had groups of friends that she knew. I wonder what happened to people like me – who knew her and we shared to jokes, the good times and the bad. Was everyone advised of “D’s” demise, or were emails just bounced back when the email address became inactive?

Have you taken precautions to ensure that your online friends are advised when there is a problem or when you may not be able to respond any longer?

Have you shown those that will be responsible for your affairs after your demise, how to access all your groups and facebook accounts and say goodbye?

Have you formatted a goodbye?

I have all my URL’s and passwords written down in a notebook, but I haven’t shown, nor told anyone.

My darling husband has no idea how to switch the computer on let alone log in and send a message.

My will has a piece of paper inserted, which although not legally binding, tells everyone what I want said and how to get that message out. But certainly something that has to be done upon my death.

And what happens to my domain names? – are they allowed to expire and there be no more me on the net – or will in 20-30 years time, people pursuing the family history only to find references to me that look and perhaps feel current?

The weirdness of it all – oh what to do?


  1. It is a very interesting subject to think about. We like to think our online life is very important, and it may be to us, but I am not sure it will be to others in the future. I've done as you have, written things down but I wonder how much it will matter.

  2. I agree - as to HOW important 'net life is after death.
    I think what made me write this is that someone (who 'owned' a facebook group did pass away, and no-one can take it down because no-one knows the passwords.
    It's a bit sad :( I think in instances like that, having stuff written down is vitally important, if not for the family relatives, then perhaps for others?

    Thanks for the comments Andrew!