These days, with the all powerful social media dug into everyone’s life like a burrowed tick – gorging on information: the blood of the internet – there are some “moments” and some awkward issues that you don’t really think about until they appear in your life.
One of these: the death of someone in your family who also happened to be active on social media and online in general raises its multifaceted head quite a bit in my life.
My father passed away over 2 years ago now, and he was a big geek: very active online with multiple projects going on and lots of group involvement. He had a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account and probably many others, but these are the two that I interacted with him on. Knowing my father as I did, I know for a fact that he was highly secretive. There was no way he would let anyone know his passwords – especially to social media.
So now he’s gone: his Facebook account is still “active” and so is his LinkedIn account. His birthday still appears as a Facebook reminder, he still gets “endorsed” on LinkedIn and invited to various groups (I’ve seen him included in various mass invites that I seem to be included in as well) and told to Like pages. People still leave him messages on his wall and leave comments on his photos or anything else he had posted before he died.
My question is: who do you trust with your keys? Who do you tell where all the bodies are buried? You do not know when you will go. You simply do NOT. It could happen any time. We are never prepared for it, really. So at what point do you tell your best friend/partner/spouse/brother/lawyer that in the case of your death, there’s this brown envelope in your desk that has all your passwords. “Please clear my browser history, bro.”
Also – if you ARE entrusted with someone’s passwords, when is the time right to delete their accounts? When do you mark them as “gone” or put an end date on their timeline?
I understand a last will and testament for your possessions, money, etc – but what about your online life? Your gaming avatars? Steam? Your Xbox live account? Your email account?
What about those?
When do you let go? When, and how, do you let their online friends know that you are deleting the character? Or do you just leave it alone? What needs to go, what can stay as a reminder in the ether of the person lost?