Online presence and passing on

December 1, 2005 1:46 PM

Just read on Mr. Brown’s blog about the passing of a blogger that he knows. I followed the link and read a few posts. It was quite surreal to be reading something written by someone that you know has passed on. The difference between reading a novel written by a dead author, and reading a blog written by a dead blogger is that a blog is generally non-fiction and is mostly a reflection of their realities.

It is like reading a very extensive obituary written by the person themselves.

This begs the question though: what happens to your online presence after you’ve passed on? If you so wished, how will your loved ones get access to your emails and blog account for example? I googled and came up with some good links:

The general consensus is that you should stipulate in a will, your passwords and how you’d want your online presence to be taken care of. Another good suggestion is to put all your passwords in a sealed envelope and give it to someone that you trust.

There’s also some dissenting comments that when you die, so should your online presence. Why should your loved one get access to your online accounts? I look at it this way: if you think of your online presence as similar extensions of your personality such as letters (snail mails!), photos, earthly possessions, and people that you know, then it is not an unreasonable desire for your family to want to get access to it. It is how they’d remember you by.

With respect to emails, if they have access it is then at least possible for your family to send a mass mail out to your contact list notifying people of your death. Some of your friends may want to attend your funeral for closure.

And with respect to blogs, if you never left instructions on what to do with it, your family may either choose to:

  1. keep it going as a digital memorial of your life, or
  2. take a copy of the blog to be kept by the family and then close it down.

Which is why giving them your passwords is crucial. Currently the laws are very vague about Internet companies giving the bereaved access to a dead person’s accounts. By giving your loved ones the option to handle these matters themselves, or according to your will, means there’s one less complication to deal with upon your death.

Apologies if this post is a bit depressing though so are talks about writing your will. Personally, I don’t think it’s macabre to be thinking about wills and the like. I consider it being responsible. As a blogger who will probably be blogging for a long time yet (hopefully! choi choi choi!), I feel that it is important to be thinking about these issues.

14 thoughts on “Online presence and passing on

  1. spinnee

    I was thinking the other day should I write my password somewhere so in the event I’m dead, someone can login for me and annouce I’m dead.

    den again, forget it. Maybe no one cares.. *spit* 🙂

  2. emiriyoshikawa

    My blog is my voice. When I die it shall fellow me to hell too.
    To let someone else carry on is… not so right, coz it’ll be their story their blog then.

    If the family wished to keep the things in it, just copy it down will do.
    If the family wanted to announce the death, just post it on the comment sections, those who cares will read it.

    Personally I wouldn’t want any of my family or friends to even know about my blog… most probably they’ll be the cause of my death if they were to know!

  3. ~*Starryluvly*~

    I actually have been thinking about this the past few days. And I think I’m definitely going to leave my password with at least one person so that they can access my stuff and do the obligatory notifications.

    Actually, the whole will thing – I’m not sure if most people actually know how to go about doing it. Plus, I think they associate wills with the wealthy and are afraid it’d cost too much to engage a lawyer to draw up a will. I wonder if an email in my own inbox can be considered a will of sorts?

  4. mooiness

    emiri: of course – to each their own definitely. if your blog was never meant for your family then what I have said is moot. however, if you would want to use online presence to help ppl remember you by, then you can via the methods shown in the links.

    starry: it is definitely a good idea. I’m gonna do it over this weekend. 🙂

    as for wills, there are cheap ones that you get from the bigger newsagents. Think it’s about $20 (comes in a pack) and I think it has to be ratified by a Justice of the Peace. Emails in your own inbox – well they’d need the password then wouldn’t they? 😉 Plus I don’t know how much legal weight an email would carry.

  5. spinnee

    At the moment, email DOES hold legal rights i.e. it’s a black & white document, but ermm…. leaving at your own inbox sounds a little weird. Who will be the ‘lawful’ person to execute/administrate to carry out that ’email will’.. and will judge base on that, to grant a probate?

    And oh yes.. in the first place, unless a mandate was authorised to read your email, who can find your will in ur inbox?

    Getting complicated here… faintzzzzzzzz….

  6. mooiness

    spinnee: the simple solution is still to have a will with all your passwords in it, or give a sealed envelope containing them to your family.

    I wonder tho – as blogs become more and more ubiquitous, would there more and more corresponding digital “tombs” so to speak? blogs that just serve as placeholders for those departed. Wow. Head spin just from thinking about it. 🙂

  7. ~*Starryluvly*~

    ok how about this:

    1. You draft your will on blogger, but don’t publish it.

    2. You create another blogger account, and use your first blogger account to invite the second account to the blog. But don’t allow admin priviledge.

    3. You leave a message in your email account’s drafts box telling people about the draft on the blog.

    3. You pass an envelope with the passwords to your email account and your second blog account to whoever it is you’re gonna entrust with it.

    That way, they cannot tamper with the draft on blogger because it was created by another user?

    damn I havea headache now.

  8. mooiness

    starry: wahahaha overly complicated methinks. 😛

    You can just have the will on paper and let the trusted person(s) post it up on your blog – since they’d presumably have your blog account password. 🙂

  9. Christina

    I had a friend who had cancer and passed away back in around March. One of her friends sent an email to some of her closest online friends, who then posted the news on their LiveJournal’s. That’s how we all found out.

    But I’ve always contemplated my online things in the event that I die. What I should do and stuff.

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