If you could continue with your social media presence after you die would you? This is a question I had after reading an article in the Huffington Post today Social Media for your Social Afterlife. A company called LivesOn has produced a computer program that will learn your likes, tastes and syntax by watching you on social media. Then in the event of your death this machine will maintain your social media accounts. You will be tweeting beyond the grave. Apparently lots of people have already signed up. But is this just a little too weird? And what is the point of social media anyway?
It got me thinking, why do I use my twitter, facebook and WordPress accounts? I use them to connect with other people. To interact and make friends, to have a laugh and to keep up with friends that are far away. Why do I want to do this when I am dead? There is no benefit to me, once I am 6 feet under, in keeping up relationships with people who are alive. Even if a computer was to run this blog and run it more effectively than me, even if a computer were infinitely more creative and made my blog famous, what would I care? I’m dead right?
So what about other people who are left behind? Would it be a comfort for the people who miss me to be able to interact with ‘me’ on twitter for example? I think not, I just think it would be plain weird. I am more than the sum of my twitter feed you know. I think my closest peeps, like my children, wouldn’t get much out of it but a sense of longing. They want their mumma to hold them and kiss the top of their head, and tell them ‘I love you’ like only I can. Seeing a retweet about the latest episode of Dance Moms isn’t quite the same. If you could program it to issue a happy birthday tweet on their birthday, or a random ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you’, that might be nice.
What about the rest of you? Well for people who don’t know me personally, who only know me from behind a computer screen I guess it wouldn’t be that different. But do you really want to have your twitter feed clogged up with random retweets from dead people? As if twitter isn’t crowded enough already. And more to the point, while a computer can learn everything about you, even what makes you feel, it cannot feel for you. It cannot have true emotion. When I read your blog posts and leave comments that are heartfelt, when I write blog posts that are raw and revealing, you are getting a little bit of my humanity. A computer can’t replicate that fully, as much as they may try. Human feeling is unpredictable, it is organic, and even if it can be ‘copied’ it will never be the same.
Is it just the next step in the bid to live forever? If we can’t have physical immortality, maybe we can be virtually immortal? Why not just transplant my brain functions into a computer that ‘thinks’ and ‘feels’ like I do and hey presto! Immortality! That sounds way out there but I don’t know if it’s far removed from the current LivesOn concept.
While I think I won’t be signing up for this anytime soon, there are lots of people who are. I guess the shiny beacon of immortality, even in a virtual sense, is irresistible to some. What do you think blog peeps? Would you like to keep getting posts and tweets from me once I am dead? Would you like virtual immortality?