I cringe at the idea of writing the ‘after your death’ words, but we both know of an irrefutable reality of our existence. We are mortal.
Except that with technology, we may not be just yet.
Many friends of mine have passed since the inception of Facebook, and I have been visiting and re-visiting their profiles to relate to a piece of them. This time, however, my colleague’s profile who left us recently, and too soon, just disappeared.
I presume his family submitted an obituary to Facebook for that purpose. While I fully and completely respect the decision of his family to do so, it somehow left me void. Not having any personal concrete souvenirs from my colleague, his Facebook account was practically the only sensory mean I could use to be reminded of him. And, unfortunately, it is now gone.
In recent news, Facebook announced new privacy settings that allow you to control what happens to your account when you die. The newly introduced settings came as a response to an increasing demand from users to have the ability to control what happens to their accounts post-mortem.
Some argue that the emotional attachment to someone may be increased through digital memories, causing considerable distress to their family and friends, which makes it just better to just wipe out the pain, and erase the traces.
I argue the opposite. You should never allow your Facebook account to vanish after your death. And here’s why:
1- Your friends memory is limited by nature. Forging it constantly with live proofs is the best way to commemorate you. As your friend, I want to be able to be reminded every minute of all the moments we had together, of those you had with your family, while graduating, getting married, and achieving your dreams.
2- Facebook is no longer just a website. It is your journal. It is where we make statements, write opinions, confess about feelings, and rant about the many things that cause us distress. Imagine before passing, your grandfather had handed you a journal where he wrote down all of his emotions and memories. Would you throw it? How can you then ask me to throw yours?
3- Your family should not worry about leaving your journal open to the public. When you decided to share your journal publicly on Facebook during your life, you were the most vulnerable to publicity. Usually, no one dares to disrespect the memory of a deceased person, no matter how controversial their shared information had been. If anything, you have surely been more vulnerable alive than dead.
4- The internet made us all immortal though our digital footprint. Do you really want to disappear as a person off the grid? In today’s world, ‘off the grid’ practically means off the records of human history.
If you don’t care to be immortal, I do.
And anyone like me who does, please make sure you go now and take control of what happens with your identity when your physical body can no longer take control of it. It is a legacy that our predecessors didn’t have before us, and I will not miss a minute to take full advantage of it, at least as far as Facebook exists.
In memory of our beloved friend, dad, and colleague.