Digital life after death: are social media ready for this human stage?

by Laurent François


Digital life after death…It can appear like a morbid thought, but hey, isn’t our digital presence a kind of new capital that our relatives could inherit? Here’s a question by JD Lasica:

“What becomes of our online life, conversation, possessions (copyright), etc. after we dies? French law has taken this into account for digital content protected by intellectual property. But what about conversations, family photographs and other items?”

This video is pretty interesting: it displays some recent examples of how people dealt with death online, how parents managed their kids’ patrimony etc.

It’s astonishing to see how unready to death our social media are: no possibility to easily share all our accesses to someone we trust, no rule for that on Facebook. It’s like we were timeless, whereas only our ideas and digital footprints are.

Finally, social media are just following some Western attitudes towards death. I’d like to quote an analysis of Philippe Arriès’ book, The Hour of Our Death :

“hence the growing fear of the afterlife, new conceptions of the Last Judgment, and the first attempts (by Masses and other rituals) to guarantee a better life in the next world. In the 1500s attention shifted from the demise of the self to that of the loved one (as family supplants community), and by the nineteenth century death comes to be viewed as simply a staging post toward reunion in the hereafter. Finally, Ariès shows why death has become such an unendurable truth in our own century—how it has been nearly banished from our daily lives—and points out what may be done to “re-tame” this secret terror.”

I’d like to know more about what other cultures think of social media & death. I haven’t found any relevant thing in English and / or French. If you have an idea: comment ! :)

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