What will you tweet after you die?

Few people “plan how their death will affect social media,” says Katie Gach digital ethnography at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who studies how people manage, and don’t manage, social media data after death. For some of her subjects, “legacies” are reserved for celebrities, so “regulars” like them need not think of a parting note. If people are thinking about their social media legacy, she said, “they only know who should make these decisions after his death,” such as telling their wives their Facebook password to delete their accounts. Beyond that, most people view social media as a false medium of the message, “as a tool for communicating in the moment, not as a meaningful record.”

Moreover, after decades of the internet being a daily part of our lives, most of us still either don’t know how to do it or don’t feel comfortable grieving on the internet. in a 2017 studyGatch and fellow digital death researchers Casey Wessler and Jed Brubecker have found that “monitoring of grief” is commonplace on the Internet, with users importing social norms of grief into social media. This leads to bitter disagreements about what is appropriate, often shaming individuals for not expressing enough grief, seeking attention through public grief, or exploiting death for personal gain.

For all of these reasons—along with the good old fear of death that precludes any planning of our ends—the vast majority of online death advertisements today either look like literally copy-and-paste from local newspaper obituaries by heart. Because this formula – date of death, age, who survived the deceased, where to send money instead of flowers – is all data, not life, and these messages are often lost in our endless newsfeeds. Person A switched jobs, Person B divorced, Person C died, and Pete Davidson tattooed Salt Bay’s thigh.

Why should we care what our Twitter death looks like when we’re dead? While Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse announcement earlier this fall was greeted with derision, threats and mostly fear, it should remind us how close society is to a world where digital space is part of our physical (not just experiential) existence, and where institutions like birth, love, and death have the same appeal. As in the physical world. to prepare for this Ready, player one Being, we must now begin to think about ways to nurture this world with the instruments of death in a meaningful way.

Fortunately, there are already communities that help shape the art and ethics of dying safely in cyberspace. Megan Devine, Psychologist, Created refuge in grief, an online community focused on reframing grief as a disease or problem that must be solved into a community built on empathy and understanding. Another community is Good Death MedalIt even uses the slogan “Welcome to the future of death,” as a gateway to important questions about death, such as how to make it more fair and green. The “death is positive“The movement, which aims to remove taboos about speaking out about our deaths, also has room to thrive online, as the non-body forum has allowed people to move more easily beyond the taboo. Even social media platforms themselves are beginning to wake up to death. After years of complaints , Facebook, which has a lot of monitoring About how grief developed, in 2019 he began letting old connection To increase control over the activities of the deceased.

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