Not very long ago, Facebook introduced the concept of adding a legacy contact. This means, after the demise of someone, their account can be monitored and controlled by a previously chosen person. However, they did not have permission to change things that were already posted by the deceased. Of course, a person can choose to get their account deleted after death. Nonetheless, if they do not, we are left with a person’s whole life, displayed online, open for us to access. Naturally, a question arises: does it alter the way we see death as whole? Let’s try to analyze the situation.
Easier to recall memories
Gone are the days when people had to rely solely on the hand-written letters (letters might even become extinct in the future years!) of their expired loved ones. Times have changed; people have gotten more and more dependent upon virtual identities of themselves where they spend time regularly to define and express themselves. Thus, after their death, we might come across the memories of our loved ones, more frequently than ever before. This might have a positive effect on us.
Hard to relinquish the past
On a conflicting note, as we regularly use social networking sites, we might come across their profile more often as I mentioned in the last section. As a result, we might get more involved into their past pictures, posts, statuses etc. This might make it harder to leave the person behind and to move on with life.
Encouragement for future descendants
By retaining the digital profile of our loved ones, the thinking and morals of the ancestors can be passed on to younger generations through their profile who could not meet in real life. For example, I could relate to my grandfather’s life more by visiting his profile (let’s assume Facebook has been there for hundreds of years!) than by listening to his stories from parents. Such a feeling is priceless as I can go through his thoughts, his pictures, and his aspirations-all in one place. Therefore, the idea of having a profile after death might not be that detrimental after all.
Referring back to the previous section, there are some drawbacks as well. As humans, we are all different and diverse. We all have our share of ups and downs in life and we all possess both positive and negative traits. All these make us human. Hence, in a social networking site, we all portray ourselves quite differently than others. While some like to highlight only the bright things of their lives, avoiding the bad things of life, others prefer expressing their sadness to get it of their chest. Likewise, some may choose to share both and bad while some choose to share nothing at all. So, after demise, we only see the part of their lives that they have chosen to share which might limit our perception towards them.
Considering these issues, we should be very watchful about what we share on social networks. This does not mean we cannot express our true selves, but a little forethought would not harm anyone. Also, since our virtual profiles are becoming a big part of our lives, this could prove to be a smart precaution. Moreover, we should choose our legacy contact wisely to avoid any sort of conflict between our family and friends, which might occur regarding modifications of the profile i.e. changing profile pictures, which friends to add etc(it will not be a pleasant situation, you bet!). In a nut shell, we should develop our online persona the way we want others to perceive us after we die.