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February 10 2008

Death And The Internet

grimreaper21I recently wrote a list for Mashable about preparing for your death on the Internet. It was actually inspired by a story I came across for another list I was working on (I swear, I make lists in my sleep now). It was a blog post done by a blogger who had been killed in Iraq. He had the forethought to write a post to be published after his death, and posted by a friend when they got the news he had died.

There’s nothing to say about that except that it touched me, and it made me wonder what would happen to my online presence if I was to suddenly die. Thus was born the “death list”.

It may seem like an odd thing to sit around and think about it, but with our online lives becoming such a vital part of our everyday lives, it has to be adressed. I have always thought about my eventual death in real world terms, even to the point I made my will when I was 18, but the online part of life just had not crossed my mind before, which surprised me.

So, what do you do? How do you even know when or how it will happen? The blogger I mentioned above, Major Andrew Olmdstead, at least had a clue what might happen. For all I know I could die at the age of 98 from the bite of a badger, or I might keel over tomorrow as I tear the hair from my head over having accidentally turned the TV to the Rachael Ray show, you just never know what’s going to happen.

And, as I said, worrying about what will happen with your online persona may seem silly, but it is such an integrated part of my life, I have to. When Adam Finley, a blogger for TV Squad, was killed by colliding with a bus while riding his bike, his coworkers didn’t know for a few days. If I don’t set up some sort of system to alert people, you might all be coming by this blog for a year, thinking I just turned in to some lazy ass who never updates. Who would tell my bosses at Mashable? I’ve never met any of my co-workers in blogging, I don’t even have phone numbers for a goodly number of them. Would my social networking profiles stay on the web for an eternity? Would my membership to NaughtyGrandmas.com keep auto renewing?!? (note: I randomly picked that name… then learned it was a real website… I then died a little inside)

tombstone21For now, I plan to write some sort of “I was killed by a rabid squirrel” post, that I will keep up-to-date as time goes on, and I am talking with someone about posting it for me when they would get the notice I had passed. I am also making a list of all my accounts on every site I belong to, the usernames, and the passwords so my family or someone else can go in and deactivate all the accounts. I’m not thrilled about writing all that information down somewhere as I then have to worry about keeping that physical list safe, but I’ll figure something out.

This post doesn’t serve much purpose beyond telling you I plan to do all of this, but I also hoped it might motivate some of you to start thinking about your plans for that inevitable moment that comes to every one. Are you prepared? Do you have a will? Someone that will let your blog readers know that you have moved on to signing the choir invisible?

No matter how old you are, it’s never the wrong time to start thinking about this stuff, no matter how depressing you may find the subject, just remember how bad it could be folks if you didn’t plan. I’ve found the best way to get around it is to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing, as you can see from this post. Sure, I don’t want to die anytime soon, but I also realize I have no control over this, it will happen when it happens, and it’s better to be prepared, because you sure don’t get a second shot at this.



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