Five Impacts Social Media Can Have on Your Afterlife

(This article was written largely to promote a Panel Picker proposal for 2014 SXSW Interactive titled “Tweet After Death: How to Use Social Media to Live Forever” that I co-developed with Michele Price. It is based on this original Waxing Unlyrical article. Please check out our dual panel description, vote for us, leave a comment, and spread the word. We really appreciate it).

The conversation surrounding social media and the afterlife is growing, and that’s only natural. While death is an uncomfortable conversation to have at the dinner table, it’s something humans have always found fascinating. Our living world is somewhat predicated on death; we all want to know how to live forever. We talk about what happens after we die.

Social media and death are great bedfellows because they are both great equalizers. While social media makes everyone part of the conversation, death will eventually remove everyone FROM the conversation. This is why social media used to speak from beyond the grave is such an interesting idea, a paradox that allows us to both live and die at the same time.

On that note, here are five impacts using social media to communicate from beyond the grave has on your life and legacy in the great hereafter.

1) It Alters and Enhances Digital Archaeology
It was only a matter of time before our leave-behinds became digitized. That time has come. We can now leave a greater volume of information behind than ever before, which makes a huge impact on what those in the future think of us. It also opens an entirely new conversation about how advanced we really are. For example, will a tweet in the future be the modern-day equivalent of rocks with scratch marks on them from 5,000 BC?
In other words, what will the world be like when Twitter is ancient as opposed to new? None of us will live to see it… but let the record show we discussed it.

2) It Connects You to Your Family and Future Citizens
Your family loves you. And more than likely, someone you care about, blood-related or not, will outlive you. This is your chance to plan your last goodbye. Should you decide to do so, you can message directly to anyone in the future about anything, for as long as you want.

So what advice do you have for the future? What would you say to your great-great grand children?

3) It Opens the Door to Potential Legal Questions
In some legal systems, posthumous prosecution has occurred. Some religions feature posthumous salvation. But whether or not these motions are valid- they incorporate the will of the living without regard for the wishes of the dead- may be greatly affected by the now-able-to-speak deceased person in question. In addition, any question of division of assets, post-life wishes or other aspects of the requests of those who have passed on might be clear in social media messaging from beyond the grave.

4) It Will Question How Life Should Be Spent
When you speak from beyond the grave, you make a decision to express something: regret, repentance, joy, love, honor, respect, persistence, etc. You also make the decision to spend part of your waking life discussing what happens when you can no longer speak. You extend your presence.

Should we tweet beyond the grave or leave life as is? Food for thought in the great beyond?

5) It Questions the Definition of Life Itself
For most, making a decision is a sign of free will. Speaking from beyond the grave via scheduled post is a the outcome of a decision, only it is a decision made before you die. To show a sign of life from beyond the grave is to demonstrate a living testament to your beliefs.
When you speak to the future, you demonstrate life after death. The dead can only join the conversation through out of context language right? What does it mean when they start chiming in using planned, calculated ways?

(Again: If you think this is an interesting topic, please vote for our Panel Picker proposal and spread the word. Thanks!)

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Daniel J. CohenFive Impacts Social Media Can Have on Your Afterlife