On line ghosts

I heard a talk on Radio National yesterday morning on ‘Future Tense’ about what happens to people’s blog lives once they have died. Not just their blogs but other experiences they may have shared on the Internet, particularly those for which entry requires a pin number.

It seems there are people, especially those of advanced years who die and leave their loved ones the task of dealing with their online identities and unfinished blog business of which their loved ones know little or nothing.

This fascinates me, the degree to which the way in which the private becomes public on line and then suddenly it’s made private again, at least for those closest to the deceased. The blogger or on line user dies and the remaining loved one must deal with a secret life of which he or she knew nothing.

One woman who aims to help people dissolve the online identities of their deceased loved ones talked about how distressed the remaining partner can become when suddenly realizing their partner had a whole other life with a host of online friends of which he or she knew nothing. Then the remaining partner finds he or she has to dissolve these arrangements when in some instances they don’t even understand the basics of computers. This can be even more devastating. They are terrified of ‘the ghost in the machine’.

2 thoughts on “On line ghosts”

  1. That's very much the basis of the novel I've been banging my head against for the past few years: a daughter who was not especially close to her elderly father gets an opportunity to learn more about her father's last few years (and who he really was) from what turns out to be a proxy daughter. If I ever finish it, it'll be called Left.

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