It sometimes dawns on me, the fact that I’m going to die. Not any time soon (hopefully), but at some point it will inevitably happen, right? It used to be I didn’t really think about it. I just went along with my life with this sort of unsuspecting air of immortality. I’d be hugely successful at something cool, truly leave a mark on the world or quite possibly live forever. I’ve been lucky enough not to suffer any real profound losses until my grandfather passed away about a decade ago, and as painful as it was he was a granddad, granddads die, ok? Not me though, don’t worry about it, I’m bulletproof.
Having a kid has – aside from messing up my sleep rhythm, showing me what pure unconditional love means, and making me learn more about the unfathomably annoying little pricks in “My Little Pony” than any human should ever have to experience – changed my whole perspective on life and death. Over night I went from zero worrying to suddenly having moments of paralyzing terror at the thought of my own looming demise. Without warning – I could be sitting in at a client-meeting or just watching TV – death-jolts would send tiny little ripples of pain down my back, making my private parts shrivel up into my body as if hit by a bucket of ice cold water. Granted, I may be over-chairing, but it seems important that this newfound anxiety actually takes on a physical form.
What do you leave behind when your time is up? What will be your legacy?
The fear of not being able to be there for my daughter forever is almost too much to bear. And the great question looms: how will I be remembered?
Aside from passing on our (at times questionable) genes, many of us dream of something else witch will live on once we’re gone. An accomplishment of sorts, a mark, a legacy; be it the time you saved a French bulldog from drowning, built your own house or perhaps destroyed all competition by downing 34 hot dogs at the prestigious “summer-chow-down”-competition. “Will I leave a legacy?”
Thing is, for better or worse, at this point we all do. As more and more of our lives migrate online, every move we make is tracked, saved and catalogued. Every tweet, every sunburned vacation-selfie and every drunken status-update that finds its way to the world wide web lives on, ready to be rediscovered, celebrated or criticized. Social media has made us all publicists and compulsive photo-maniacs, given us a way to express ourselves and constantly present ourselves to the world. And why shouldn’t we, everyone want’s to be seen, right?
But what happens with all this information when you die? Who will control your twitter-account when you punch your ticket, tend to you precious Facebook-account when you bite the dust, administer your Tinder profile when you kick the bucket, or watch over your Instagram feed when you turn into a lifeless sack of decomposing flesh and bones?
Well, to some extent you relinquished control over your photo the very second you decided to immortalize that semi-nude tequila-body-shot-race at Pacha Club, Ibiza that crazy summer of 2013. Posting stuff online does that. But making sure your loved ones get at least some means of influence on what is and isn’t on display would probably be a good idea.
Dr. Mark Taubert, a UK expert in grief, social media and end-of-life planning explains the importance of preparing for modern day demise in a 2016 interview with online magazine Tech Insider. "Not only do you have to think about your physical possessions, but you also have to take all the digital bits into account," he said. "Who can access your account, emails, photo albums, music files, who gets the passwords, what happens to all your images and videos?"
Now, if you are anything like me, you’ve got online-profiles all over the place, and every platform handles a users death differently. Twitter and Dropbox simply erases the users profile, a quick and unsentimental goodbye. With Facebook, there are options. Your next of kin will be offered the choice between either deleting your profile or converting it into a memorial status. That way you existing Facebook friends may leave messages on your wall, while your profile will no longer show up in the “recommended box”. There are several online-services offering “online-wills”, efficiently administrating your web presence and departure as requested by you. Just think about it: Google, Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat – these are only a scrap of all the different forums where photos, videos and texts stay very much alive even after you’ve left this world.
So, whatever your preference, not making a choice is also making a choice. What you leave behind will stay online; it will be your legacy. And even if death somehow doesn’t scare you – that shit should.