My parents have always been upfront with me about their wishes for when they die. Curious, I called them up and had a remarkably cheerful chat about what to do with their social media remnants. Next up, what did they want done with their profiles?
First we established what accounts each had: My mother is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (“though I never use it”), and LinkedIn, while my dad is on Facebook, Instagram (“for sharing pictures from our trip to Mexico”), and LinkedIn. Both were quick to report that they found LinkedIn useless—evidence, I think, that they’re savvy social media users.
Next up, what did they want done with their profiles? We focused on Facebook, the one service they both used consistently. It’s a question that had already come up for my mother. A family friend, “late in his life, had someone set up an account for him and it was active for a couple of years. When he died, nobody took it down, so I’ll still get notified of his birthday. That account is still just floating out there.” For her, it’s “disturbing” to get that reminder once a year. Not an ideal situation.
My father seemed into the idea. “It’s a bit like a scrapbook or a family album, in a way. It’s an interesting way to let people get a more personal view than an obituary—what this person was interested in, if they had a sense of humor, or whatever was important to them. The memorial thing sounds like a good deal, honestly.”
I was satisfied that I had a rough idea of what their wishes were—a memorial page for my dad, a temporary one for my mother, and deleting all their other social media profiles. As the call wound down, my mom waxed philosophical about the effect of thinking of social media as your “digital legacy.” Read more…