So apparently Facebook now allows you to designate what happens to your account after you die. You can either have it deleted forever in the ultimate act of “shhh… this never happened,” or you can delegate someone to be your “Legacy Contact”— meaning they can pin a post to your account, accept friend requests, and change your profile photo. Just like Highlander of the 90s, there can be only one so you shouldn’t ask your current shite boyfriend unless he’s a keeper.
I’m trying to figure out which option I’d choose. If you do nothing, your account gets locked down forever as a memorial. Nothing can be changed, it can never be deleted. But even if you designate a Legacy Contact, they can’t go back and take down your embarrassing photos or the long rant you once made about how you’re just gonna treat yo’ self and take no shit and all the haters gonna hate. That will be there forever.
A few years back this would have been viewed as absurd, grotesque, and inappropriate. It would have been like asking your friend to feed your Furby or pet Nano after you die. But now? It kind of makes sense. We live our entire lives on these public screens where we process the birth of a baby or the debate over the colors of a dress–I guess it only makes sense that we’d also use social media to process death. That’s mostly what counts here– you’re not going to be around to update your NewsFeed, it’s a question of what you want to leave behind for everyone else. Just like a will or an insurance settlement, we now have to take into consideration what’s here for everyone who’s still logged in.
On my Facebook, you’ll find an almost daily accounting of my ridiculous and frightening coworkers, as well as the inevitably awkward failures of my attempt to live in this world. Mixed throughout are hundreds of posts from my friends, comprised almost entirely of goats. I mean… it’s a fairly accurate picture of my existence, but not all encompassing.
This makes me question the value of what I share online. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on stopping my chronicle of ridiculousness and absurdity. But it does make me think twice about the whole concept in general. We live in such a fast-paced and reactive sort of society where our immediate thoughts are put on blast to the world. We take it for granted that we always have the option to go back and delete what we said when we were angry at a loved one or ranting about a neighbor’s hideous holiday decor. But what if we don’t get to delete it, what if it stays there forever?
The fact that Facebook has to provide options for this scenario makes me wonder whether we think about this enough for our lives in general. Am I creating interactions and memories that I’d regret if I weren’t around tomorrow? Probably. And I know it’s morbid, but it’s probably worth thinking about the sorts of things we want to leave behind, both online and offline. I’m curious to know what you think, whether you’re a blogger, a reader, or a lurker.
Do you think YOUR facebook/online presence would be an accurate memorial of your life? Which Legacy Contact option will you choose? What do you think should never be shared on social media?
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