Digital Life… After Death

I have a Last Will & Testament. A Living Will. Several different forms of Power of Attorney. All of which are designed to take care of my physical life and belongings when I’m either incapacitated or die.

But what happens to my digital life and data?

I’m not really sure why I was thinking about this. What happens if I get killed by a flaming toilet seat from space? If there’s one thing that was drilled into my head in Boy Scouts, it was:

Be Prepared!

Oddly enough, as I typed that, I wonder if that’s what made me so pessimistic and negative about so many things? I’ll have to ponder that for a bit….

Anyway, back to what I was originally pondering.

I feel that I’m not prepared. At least for the digital afterlife.

I do all the paperwork in our household: our personal finances, both of our personal business finances, and the finances for our two businesses. All of which means I have a plethora of online accounts: banking, bills, vendors, etc., all of which have usernames and passwords to access.

I also manage several domains, and have several different email accounts. Then there’s all the social media sites I am a part of: this blog, Twitter, Facebook, tumblr, Google+, flickr, YouTube, Gowalla, foursquare, and only the FSM knows what other sites. What will happen with those accounts? And who will let my online friends know of my demise in a proper and respectful manner, even if I do break my neck slipping on a puddle of lube the Husbear failed to clean up?

And it’s not like the Husbear (or probably anyone else) could guess my passwords. I’m not one of those people who use the same simple password for every site I visit. I like my passwords complex, just like my men. 😉 I essentially had god privileges with my former corporate IT job, so having complex passwords was always drilled into our heads.

Mostly because I tend to not remember *all* of them myself, I do keep an encrypted database with my current account information in it: usernames, passwords and all those damned annoying challenge questions and answers. But how would anyone know how and where to get into that? Should I keep the access information in a sealed envelope in a safe deposit box just in case?

What about all the computer gear I have around. The Husbear has finally just learned where the power switch is for the DSL modem. How is he going to know how things are connected and interconnected? After all, he’s the first to call me when “the Internet is down!” Should I draw a diagram out? I know the way I do things and the way other tech heads do things are never ever the same. Would someone have to dismantle my network just to make sense of it? Or could they?

And what about all the digital media I have: all the digital photos I have taken over the years; all the photos, videos, movies and television episodes I’ve “collected” (some of which may or may not be porn). Who will know where that is all stored, and who it should go to, and what should be scrubbed?

These are the kinds of thoughts I have at night when I should be sleeping.

Not to sound like the invitational at the end of a church sermon, but I’m curious: Have you given any thought to this for yourself? Is there someone who will take care of your digital life and data for you when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil? Will they even know where to start?

Until next time...

20 thoughts on “Digital Life… After Death

  1. I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not important. Much like that beloved Police Box of mine, it’ll become an idle curiosity people ignore as they go about their lives, and time will move on and it’ll all get buried and become the past.

    Besides, I think most people I know will value the peace and quiet… and that’s also how they’ll know when I’ve gone.;o)

  2. I think about it sometimes. I keep a cheat sheet at home of accounts and passwords Jeffrey can access. I wonder if I should do more to have my internet persona erased. I bet there will be a service some day soon that you can pay to do just hat, no doubt: wipe out your on line accounts. OR, we could go in the other direction and set up a years worth of blog posts, complete with eerie pics of ourselves decaying or in white make up, and schedule them to post after we’re gone…pretending to post from the grave. Now THAT would be a hoot.

    1. I don’t know if I want my data erased when I go. But some sort of final posting on each would be nice, so people wouldn’t wonder what happened to me.

      As far as the practical joke posts in the future. I may or may not have those set up already. 😉

      A former co-worker and I joked about setting up a service that, after our demise, would mail out picture postcards from various locations around the planet to random people we know. Just to fuck with them.

  3. I have thought about that too… I dont know that Jeff would know where to begin, but at least for passwords, we have several that we use on everything, so I am sure he would figure it out… I think…but now you have me wondering what to do….hmmmm

  4. “Should I keep the access information in a sealed envelope in a safe deposit box just in case?”
    Yes, Erik! For Christ’s sake yes! And put the master password in your will too.
    And make sure the Husbear knows how to stop all the monthly billings for all the online clubs you may belong to.

    For me, every account I have has a different and complex password. I store them all in the cloud in an encrypted database service, but keep one local copy here hidden away, in case the internet goes south. Upon my demise, Greg will get access to the master password and instructions on what it is and how to use it.

  5. My friend Sam’s blogs are still available, a year after he died. I sometimes go and look at them as a way to remember him.

  6. Wow this is something i’ve never thought of until now. I think I should designate one of my friends to have all my digital information when i’m gone. I would for sure will off my computer to one of my friends because my family does NOT need to see all the porn I have stored on it, including the pics and vids where i’ve documented my “meetings” with certain dudes. And I like Sean’s idea of posting pics of ourselves in decaying make-up to make others think we’re posting from beyond the grave. Fabulously evil!

  7. In my preparation for death, I have a list of “in case of death” instructions of how to eliminate this that and the other Internet activity. It’s a sort of do it yourself eliminate my data. I haven’t determined whether or not my blog would go. I like to think it will stay up in my passing.

  8. My friend and I were talking about this as a new business. We would be the ‘keeper’ of online passwords and user ids for just this situation. We just have a few more details to workout… So, yes. I have thought about this too!

    1. There would definitely be a lot of interesting hurdles to face with it. But I bet it could be patterned after some of the standards used in the financial world.

  9. Please oh please tell me the flaming toilet seat from space was a “Dead Like Me” reference. If it was, your Manda cool points just shot up tenfold. 😉

    1. Poor George, branded for eternity as “Toilet Seat Girl”. I love Dead Like Me. I wish they would have continued the series. Or at least wrapped it up in some way other than that horrible “movie”.

      And it’s nice to know my cool points just shot up!

      1. loved that show! (and also because they filed in my hometown of Vancouver,BC)
        the final “movie” was dreadful, I agree.
        Did you ever catch his other shows “Wonderfalls” and “Pushing Daisies”? very clever as well

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