Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A funeral for the internet

Kevin E. was a good man, who was sadly beset by health problems as long as I knew him. He died too soon. While we both played the same game (which is how I met him), and I greatly admired his ability to play it, I'll more remember him for his congenial nature, his warm heart, and his willingness to be the butt of good-natured jokes. I'll miss him. The world is poorer without him.

I'd just found out that an acquaintance of mine, from a while back, died. We weren't close, but we were definitely very friendly. While I'm very sad to find this out, I'm not overcome with grief. It does have me introspective about various bits of my own life, and how I'd let people know that I've died.

I've lived in a lot of places, and many people I only keep in touch with through e-mail or chat programs. Others still I've never met in my life, but I've known so long from the internet that I consider them as good as any friend I've been with in flesh and blood. Some even better. Technology has let me trade car stories with an Australian miner in Perth, talk about Dr. WHO and Sci Fi movies with a welsh gal who makes her own chainmail. And jabber on about nothing with a pair of Kuwaiti sisters who speak better English than I do! Not to mention all the people I keep in contact with here and in the states. The list goes on - the internet has let us internationalize our contacts.

But the down side to this is, if any of them where to die, how would I find out? I would want to find out - some of these people I like a lot. And if I were to die, how would they find out? I'd just be another person who disappears into silence on the web. A few emails would go unanswered, and then maybe a few people would try to call me. After getting my voicemail, or a disconnected line, there's not much else many could do. When you're dead, you can't update facebook saying 'Hi guys, nice knowing you. Thanks for all the good times.'

How can we fix this problem?


Alaska Steve said...

I'm picturing an app that would make you verify you were alive by clicking something with your mouse, say once a week (or whatever time period you chose). If you didn't keep up the routine, it would send you a reminder. If you still didn't verify you were alive, it sent out emails notifications to everyone in your address book that you had died with a nice obit (that you could write yourself and update as needed). . . . do you want to patent it or should I? :O)

TwoYaks said...

But the flip side to this would be that if you or I went on vacation, or lost the internet for a period, people'd be receiving notifications of our unfortunate demise. It seems like there'd be too many false positives...

Cate said...

We should start leaving our blogspot login information with our wills (or IN our wills!), so that someone who deals with our details after can put up a eulogaic post.

I'm writing mostly with my tongue in my cheek but seriously it probably would be the best fix. I recently found out that someone I dated in college passed away because his family updated his status on facebook to say that he had passed. Then his page was full of eulogies for him that his family could then read. So it wasn't a bad thing.