I read an article* today about our “digital afterlife”, describing how, as we all become more involved in the online world and social networking, the more varied the possibilities for our digital selves after we’re gone. (I can hear you wondering, “What the hell does that mean?”) Apparently, there are companies starting up that will act as executor of your digital self and its properties upon your death (blogs, online accounts, Flickr accounts, webpages, etc.), and there is even a company called DeathSwitch that allows users to send digital messages from the great beyond to friends and loved ones (is it just me, or does that sound creepy to you, too?). With millions of people using Facebook and more and more people going online as part of their daily routine (think about it, are there many days you don’t go online at least once?), it was only a matter of time before someone saw this sort of business opportunity. How you look at all of this probably depends on how much time you spend in the digital world. I’m a relative newcomer to blogging, Facebook, and Twitter; I just started this past summer and one led to the others, but I know some people who don’t go more than several hours without tweeting or posting on their wall. Can you imagine turning off your computer and walking away from it – living your life without ever turning it on again? If you can, I’m with you, but you and I probably don’t have that much invested in our digital selves. Many other people do, and as time goes on, there’s just going to be more and more of them and less of us. I know this is a big can of worms I’m scratching at, and it’s a can that’s been pried open by many others, but reading that article left me wondering how all of this will relate to Violet. For her, technology will likely advance to the point where there will be no clear distinction between her online life and her off-line one. Part of me knows I have to accept that, but a bigger part of me – the part that wants to keep her away from video games and cell phones and Facebook as long as possible – hopes beyond hope that she’ll see all of these technologies for what they are – nice accessories to a life, not a substitute for one. A Facebook friend is no substitute for a real one, and a digital life is no replacement for one well lived among the living and the wild. A person should be able to live, and live well, without their phone and their computer, or at least be able to imagine doing so – to see the value in doing so. It worries me that its going to get more and more difficult – not only to imagine it, but to do it.
65 days old
*You can read the article here: http://theweek.com/article/index/211288/the-last-word-your-immortal-cybersoul