Today, you need to think about more than just your body.
It can be difficult to visualize all the material that composes our digital remains, and it can be even more daunting to control its reach.
What happens to your online presence when you die?
How long will the information that you have put online throughout your life exist?
Who will see or have access to this information after you die?
When we begin to take a slightly deeper look at what will happen with our online information in the future, it becomes apparent that it needs to be addressed. Let’s dive into some essential advice and ideas that will help you traverse the now growing task of managing what will become of your digital remains.
To refresh, information that exists of us online — the pictures, posts, blogs, articles, and mentions — composes our digital remains.
Digital remains are the temporary and perpetual imprints, both direct and indirect, of our lives and existence present in digital forms on the internet, in the cloud, or coded into other extractable sources. We exist for all intent and purpose, digitally living on in a way as coded 1’s and 0’s that make up our information online, as well as physically. Ignoring the eternal uses of what exists of us online, our digital remains would be a grave mistake!
The idea of our digital eternity exists widely in pop culture references that range from the Nine Inch Nails song, “Zero Sum,” which contemplates our lives as 1’s and 0’s, to movies like The Matrix that go a little farther and dive into the fictionalized idea in which everything, including the world we live in, is at its base a computer program composed of 1’s and 0’s. If we step back and look at our digital remains' real-world applications; however, it becomes clear that they are not an abstract idea but rather something we really have to address in the modern world.
Digital Remains: the temporary and perpetual imprints, both direct and indirect, of our lives and existence that are present in digital forms on the internet, in the cloud, or coded into other extractable sources.
The integration of your digital remains into your will can highlight the preferences you have for your online information to a Designated Digital Remains Steward, who is someone you specify to carry out your wishes for your online presence. Incorporating these wishes into your end-of-life planning might be one of the most efficient and official ways to express the preferences you have for your data online once you are gone. These additions might include the passing on of access to your cloud storage, passwords to multiple sites, and access to the content in your inboxes. These wishes could also express the preferred path you have chosen to those you leave behind that should be taken in regulating the public exposure of your image, likeness, and information on social media sites.
For more interesting topics that discuss death, dying, and bereavement in a technology world, check out: Digital Remains by J.H. Harrington. Available anywhere books are sold.