I stumbled upon a very sweet incredible but also very emotional piece in the NY Times where a mother, Jacqueline Moore, is finding solace in sharing the memories of her son, Jordan, who passed away in 2010, through his Facebook page – It’s a presence unique in its way!!
In a strange way, with all due respect, I didn’t find this comforting. I don’t want my loved ones to die, but I don’t think I would be comfortable getting too terribly close to virtual representations of them. I might be unable to accept their absence but can’t bear their virtual presence. Of course, there is nothing wrong with looking through old photos of the loved one every once in a while, but surely it can’t be healthy to live 24-7 with a virtual representation of someone, instead of mourning them then letting them go. But it would not be comforting to have a virtual copy of a deceased loved one.
Technology is advancing so much that very soon people will communicate with their virtual persona even when they can no longer talk to their actual self. They can leave messages and post pictures and videos to their wall, almost as if they were still there. I think especially for friends and family members having this possibility brings up a cathartic effect. I find this an interesting but spooky.
We keep forgetting who we are as a person and who we are with respect to the internet – they are often entirely different personas. That’s certainly an issue with the Internet as we know it today. When you live your life online and have connections with lots of friends around the world you will only notice that a person doesn’t come online anymore. But it is very hard to know why.
**Note to future generations: After I’m gone, please let me rest in peace. I might find the concept of a social networking site active in my name quite disturbing. You can grieve for me, but after a while please recover and live life. I don’t want a piece of software forever reminding you of what you have lost or (even worse) growing and evolving over time into something very different from the original me.**
The other side of the coin is also fascinating – parents who create a social media presence for their children, I always wonder what will children think of their social network profiles when they get older. Will they be amazed or embarrassed or appreciate your effort of introducing you to the world when they were struggling to crawl? I am glad that internet was still being invented in remote areas when I was born. I would hide under the bed and never come out if my parents would have updated my facebook wall like a news feed, tweeted about my stupid innocent questions, instagram-ed every move and cute-bum, and snap-chatted every cry and smile.
BTW, That Can Be My Next Tweet is a cool time-waster app which tells your next tweet based on the DNA of your twitter stream – can we be so predictable? Unfortunately, I think we can….;) What about you?