Not long ago I entered my Facebook “friends” list to delete the name of someone I’d known for years but who had died. His photograph on the website showed him looking vibrant and happy, so it was difficult for me to hit the delete button. If I did, I felt I’d be responsible for his disappearance.
As I sat staring into his smiling expression, I got to thinking about life and virtual life. Then later, as fate would have it, I came across an article that explained how the two forms of existence were posing questions for the legal profession. Namely, who owns our virtual existence after we’re gone – our emails, our photographs, our blogs? (“Managing Your Digital Afterlife,” by Carrie Arnold, Scientific American Mind, Sept/Oct 2013 pg. 22-23)
If Mark Twain had written a blog, I can understand why there’d be a legal squabble over who owned the rights to it. As to my scribbling, I doubt much will be said. Still, in the virtual world, memory has a digital persona and becomes a form of inheritance. Such a strange idea, even for the 21st century. It occurred to me after reading the article, that whether I had deleted the image of my friend or not, he was floating out there in the internet, enjoying a ghostly form of eternal life.
I made a mental note, then and there, to call my attorney and leave instructions not only for my worldly remains and possessions, but also for my virtual ones.
(Courtesy of meedan.org)