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Heaven, Hell, and Facebook

I went to Seattle and only took pictures of a goose. He was nice, and I asked permission. I am not sure what is wrong with me as a typical millennial, but I can assure you, I am becoming more and more tech averse.

Goose
Well, at least this was in Gas Works Park

I believed this was in staunch reaction to the characterization of my generation as being mired in techno-quicksand. I didn’t wish to be trapped, ever sinking, in a slog of unnecessary drama, status updates, and screens.

I recently read an article on the BBC talking about how Facebook is changing the way we relate to death.

At some point in time, there will be more dead Facebook users than living ones. Facebook is a growing and unstoppable digital graveyard.

The article went on to talk about how certain websites are already working with our metadata to create programs of the deceased that are highly responsive – and accurate to that person based on their life. With these programs, users can purportedly ask their dead grandfather questions and receive accurate answers based on their likes, preferences, and relationships – a séance for the new generation.

Seance
Like this, only not at all.

These macabre applications seem to dole out some strange benefits to our mindless and banal posting habits. There’s some vague promise of our legacy being co-opted in this way, and our life being extended via an external trick of code. One day our grandchildren might be able to interact with a shade of us, and we have to keep posting ever more specific data for them to get the best possible representation of who we were.

As I mulled over the finer points of the article, I felt a deep sense of panic well up inside of me. “What will my grandchildren interact with if I have no social media presence? How will they know who I am…who I was?”

A strange picture of my future progeny suffering at school because of the decision I made to opt out of social media floated across my mind’s eye like an empty parade float – unfinished and as eerie as it is depressing.

I’ve never wanted children. This simple fact snapped me back to reality – albeit only in part – and I started to ponder the unique social pressure I found in that moment. This is just another way Facebook is subverting our lives, although much more nefarious. They are claiming ownership of our afterlife.

No more an avatar on Facebook than a clone, potentially memorialized after I die but (probably) used to display ads to my grandchildren. I paused to reflect.

gma

I have moved away from Facebook to preserve today. To preserve the moments in which I am afraid I won’t truly live if I’m too worried about capturing them for a legacy that may not outlast this sentence. I divorced myself from social media to stop that exact level of pressure – that unique and wholly new coercion of feeling like I can’t truly be myself without a profile – that somehow who I am is diminished and that my family would be ashamed without my social media shadow in the future.

To my grandchildren and to all who live on the Internet after I die, I’d like to leave a message in a bottle, left on a server somewhere if you ever care to read it:

Go outside.


Seattle Moon by Howard Ignatius
Photo Credits: SEANCE by rafeejewell


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Interested in many things, but nothing captivates more than technology, entrepreneurship, futurism, and humanity’s quest to problem-solve.

  • Kate

    Oversharing is most definitely a problem in our world, but what about… Undersharing? You’ll have no pictures to remember your trip to Seattle when you’re a child free grandmotherly figure. Living in the moment is becoming a lost art, but looking at picture albums my mom put together when I was too small to retain and process memories is priceless. Plus, that hilarious baby picture you have has cheered me up many a time, but I digress.

    • I think those memories will always be there; but just in the sense of your mother’s photo album – there for her to use when she wants but not when she doesn’t. And certainly NO ADS haha!

      But I do understand the desire for sentimentality. I love that baby pic too!