My Social Network Will

I make no apologies for being involved with social networking through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. I use them every day to network with co-workers, colleagues, associates, friends, family and to meet new people or get introduced to new people.

The good sites work more or less as expected. All of them have their technical glitches, but occasionally something weird or inappropriate happens just because the wheels of the machine keep turning no matter what. It happened to me recently, and it's made me consider what should be done with all my online web pages, social sites, etc. when I'm gone.

LinkedIn kept suggesting I should contact a well-known, highly respected astronomer. Normally I'd take their suggestion and make the effort to reach out, but in this case the person happens to be someone who died suddenly a little over a month ago. It was kinda creepy having the software automatically include him in lists of people I should make a connection with repeatedly. So I decided to do something about it.

Contacting a real person at Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn is a challenge to say the least, and finding out the process for deactivating a deceased person's account is a real exercise in drilling down into the website. Eventually I was able to fill out a form and someone from customer service emailed me a day later with yet another link to another form that I had to fill out and submit to yet another url address.

Did I mention I'm not related to this departed soul. We weren't friends. I don't know anyone in his family. I just thought it ought to be taken care of out of respect for the person.

Well the issue was finally resolved and they deactivated his account, but like I said earlier, it got me to thinking about what my wishes are for all the places my face, facts and opinions are plastered all over the Internet.

This is how I feel about it today. ( I could change my mind...)

Any career oriented pages or accounts, like LinkedIn or professional associations, should be taken down as soon as possible. If I'm a valued member of some organization and they want to put up an "In Memorium" page or something, fine. (Hey, it could happen!) Try to pick a good picture of me to be remembered by, please.

Facebook and similar pages should be deactivated very soon also. I think its morbid to have Facebook suggest to people that they friend a dead person, so please make my Facebook go away after I'm gone if it's still here by then.

The websites I have online are mostly astronomy related and serve a purpose for an active group of astronomers or researchers. Most of them are shared with at least one other person who can decide whether or not to continue them after I am gone. Maybe they'll all be gone before I am. Who knows.

Considering its minutely small footprint on the memory of Google, and the fact that it is a labor of love written for you as much as for me; leave the blog up forever. Maybe some cyber archeologist will find it one day and get a smile out of "The Summer We Flew to the Moon" or "Don't Lick the Telescope". That thought makes me smile.


RapidEye said...

"Try to pick a good picture of me to be remembered by, please."

Does that even exist? =-)

In all seriousness - this is something my wife and I have talked about, but really not done anything about. I belong to the usual social networking sites and she doesn't (she doesn't see the point of them and does all of her internet communication via email and message boards). So if I got seriously ill tomorrow and she needed to get in contact with one of my "online" friends, could she do it.... probably not.

I guess for now, there is enough overlap between my "cyber space" friends and "meat space" friends if something happened, word would get out (similar to what you did). But there are places, like Twitter, where really very few people know who I really am. I guess I'm putting too much importance on my tweets =-)

Very good post Mike!

Big Mike said...

When I discussed this with my wife she told me she will just keep posting to my accounts as if I am still alive! Then she got this wicked smile on her face.

I think its interesting that both of us seem to assume I will die first. But that is another topic, for another day.