Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rest In Peace

I found myself horrified while watching a TED video today and it brought me back to a couple of instances that have happened over the last couple of years.

I found myself helping out a few people. The kind of scenario where someone has died and there's some sort of electronic trail left behind. A message on an answering service. A photo on a cellphone etc.

Every time something like this comes up I find myself thinking life, or rather, death, used to be easier. Our loved ones didn't linger around.

And if they did, it was unexpected. It was a photograph in an old family album that hadn't seen the light of day for many a year. It was seldom a voice.  Or, it should never be what the guy in that video suggests - that our online presence continues after we're gone. I don't object to a last post. A kind of "goodbye" but as much as the idea of digitizing our brains seems like really cool science fiction, there's something really creepy about it as well.

Think about who you are online as opposed to who you are in person. While it's not miles apart for me, it is different. There's a certain freedom to how we communicate in text. For starters, it lends itself well to forming the thoughts a lot more completely before communicating them. As opposed to the odd little clues that eventually grow into something that happens when you're talking. I seldom say "fornicate" or "phallus" in real life.

I've had cause to think about this lately. Someone said to me that they don't really know me. This feels really strange to me. I think I've accepted that you never really get to know people. You get some idea of their personality and attitude - that's the bit that feels important to me. There are the superficial things that may explain parts of their personality and attitude - like what they do for a living. For example, someone who's been within the military is likely to have a different perspective than a pacifist.

Which all leads to another interesting thought. What does this blog say about me? If someone were to get to know me via the blog and then meet me in person, how different would their expectation be compared to who I am in person?

And given that there's very likely a discrepancy between who you are, and who you appear to be online (this comes up in dating as well. A friend and I talked about this today - in terms of humour, it can be quite different in text in comparison to in person.), would you really want your loved ones remembering you for your online presence?

And if the online presence is an issue, how much contact with the dead is healthy? A séance proves that the dead are a bunch of phallus' (if it really is true). They're unclear. They talk in riddles. So clearly unhealthy. Following new posts in a dead person's twitter feed? Yep... creepy. How about if you're still able to hear the dead's voice?

There's definitely a scale here... I tend to think though, if you have digital photos and the like... imagine that the subject of that photo were to die... How safe are those photos? Or recordings? With the online storage options (Dropbox, Google Drive - though Google are a bunch of phallus' for STILL not releasing a Linux client) out there, I tend to think it's a failure of people (or their support) to have not backed up those files that could potentially be important to them. We don't need to get creepy about it...

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