It has been many years since I wrote on this topic but it came to mind a couple of weeks ago when I announced the new Elderbloggers List and spoke of the blogs that were either abandoned or had disappeared:
”Did they get bored and just stop?” I wrote. “Did they pick up their marbles and move to another address without telling readers? Have they fallen too ill to keep up? Have they died?
“In almost all cases there is no way to know, adding to the mysteries of life in general and the internet in particular. (I'll discuss this soon in a different post.)”
This is that post.
In the first go-round on this topic, 10 years ago, I wrote mostly about how nothing ever really disappears on the internet – if you know how to look - and leaving stories behind for children, grandchildren and beyond is a good thing to do.
I carried on a bit about documenting your life and urging your grandchildren to start doing that early. As it turns out, there was no need. In the intervening decade, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterist and dozens of other websites have been spawned where there is more than enough documentation of the lives of almost everyone on earth.
More importantly back then, however, I discussed a final blog post:
”I have left...a final blog to be posted. Yes, it begins with, 'If you’re reading this, I am dead,' though I intend to update it every six months or so and I may be able, in time, to get more creative than that.”
With the passage of time, I'm quite happy with that introduction – succinct and to the point. I also explained that I had left information on where to find that final blog post along with easy-to-use instructions on how to publish it.
The missing-in-action people on the Elderblogger List last month brought all this back to me. Although none of them were friends exactly, some were people I'd come to know at that internet distance and/or closeness we are all familiar with, and it is disconcerting to not know what happened to them.
Our online presences are much wider now than ten years ago. You might not have a blog but be active on Facebook. Perhaps, instead, you like Instagram or Pinterist or you have a lot of followers on Twitter. Maybe it's your habit to post comments at a particular website or two frequently enough to have made online friends there.
It is not morbid to consider how you want the people you know online to be informed when you die. It is a good thing to work out what you would like to say to the people in the web communities where you have lived some of your life when you have gone.
It has been too long since I updated my final blog post, something I'll do now that I'm talking about it here. It's important because although I'm 74 now and life expectancy hovers near 80 these days, that means a lot of people die younger. There are no guarantees and we can count only on today.
It has become commonplace in recent times for people to create their own memorial services. I've attended several for which the deceased chose the location, the music, the food, the order of the speakers and even wrote their obituaries sometimes.
Now I think the time has arrived to also arrange for the online announcement of our demise and leave instructions for someone you choose to follow through on your behalf.
You will be doing all of us still breathing a favor so that we know what happened, and you will be giving us the opportunity to mourn. It could easily be said that arranging this is now the polite thing to do.
If nothing else, it’s a chance to have the last word, and I’m not letting an opportunity like that pass me by.