The Death of Friends – Unstoppable Virtual Lives – A Social Media Problem?


As you grow older family, friends and colleagues pass away and for all of us our time will eventually come. Today I received a ‘Social Media Website’ call-to-action in the form of an E Mail; ‘Send Allan McKinnon a Birthday Card’, because Allan’s Birthday is in 7 days! Despite time being a healer this made jump in my seat because Allan died of prostate cancer in March 2009. I have over the years received these notices including spam from Allan courtesy of FanBox – (San Diego) who I wrote to giving them a piece of my mind – pointless but fulfilling nonetheless. Unfortunately we have a WWW that is growing exponentially and we are populating it, but are we cleaning it up as we move along? Trillions upon trillions of bytes of data that is out-of-date, worthless & abandoned on hardware in storage-farms worldwide. Electricity, cooling and control required to keep useless dead data alive! I also lost some colleagues in a plane crash many years ago. I thought I would do the right thing by informing the Companies where we shared our Social and Professional details, that they were no longer with us. This was in order to stop receiving reminders about their birthdays et al like Allans today. However I did not get far as I had to prove that they were dead! My word was certainly not good enough. Why? Because people often call up and claim people are dead when they are not, in order to have profiles removed, is what I was told! I had to send a ‘Death Certificate’ as proof! This was something that I,not a member of the family, was unable to deliver! So here we are periodically or randomly reminded of the people we once loved, who are no longer with us but are alive in the ether! Interestingly we don’t get asked for a Birth certificate when we create a Social or Professional Media Account nor do we have to prove that we are alive at any time along the way. When we pass away however there are no mechanisms to clean up what we have left behind; and who the heck knows where we have created our Virtual Presence? We have a WWW that is filling with people’s personal details – creating potentially unstoppable Virtual Lives. May Allan rest in peace and continue to live in his virtual world. I wont be sending him a card though some people might! I have unexpectedly shed a tear today for a dear, dear friend (pictured) that has never actually left me despite, for me at least, these passionless reminders!

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