I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. I’m normally not a melancholic person. But I’ve been writing and reading some really dark stuff so there’s been a cloud hanging over me. That aside, some of this ruminating has been triggered off by a curious thing that happened the other day.
A man I knew briefly (we had exchanged a few emails relating to work and were connected on social media) seems to have died a few years ago and I had no clue. His updates and tweets (possibly auto-generated) had continued over the years. How on earth was I to know? A few days back when I was online on a business networking platform, I noticed an update from him on my newsfeed and beside his name, there was a line mentioning that he had passed on. I couldn’t believe it. I zoomed in and read the fine print again. It wasn’t a mistake. He was dead.
Since then, every time I spot a tweet or an automatic newsletter from his handle, I get a jolt. It’s odd when someone who isn’t around anymore sends you a notification. Gives you a turn, doesn’t it?
That’s when I started thinking. We leave the physical world when we breathe our last. What about the digital world? Do we ever leave it? Our profile, auto tweets and other random things we might have set up for business or pleasure go on forever (giving our friends and acquaintances) the jitters every now and then.
I mean, imagine if I died and you got a reminder from FB to wish me on my birthday? Or got an automatic newsletter from me with the best news of the day. How would that make you feel? Even if you didn’t actually know me, had never ever laid eyes on me and were only a virtual acquaintance. Even then, it would give you quite a shock, wouldn’t it?
With everyone so protective of their privacy, passwords are not casually bandied about either. So my near and dear ones may not have a clue how to set things right. Not that I’d want them to. It would be the equivalent of going through my clothes and books and giving them away. I couldn’t have them go through the trauma of sorting through my digital rubbish.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the poor man and I hope wherever he is, he is at peace. I wouldn’t have been able to rest knowing I had left such a mess behind for people to clean. My house is bad enough.
It’s time I cleaned up my digital act. As Queen had famously NOT sung,
Who wants to live forever?
physically or digitally?
So better now than never!
Clean up your act today.