Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Digital Legacies

Have you ever thought about how large your digital footprint is?  Have you considered what happens to your digital life after you or your loved one dies? These and many more concerns are explored in depth in Elaine Kasket’s book, All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of our Personal Data.  

Dr. Kasket is a psychologist and speaker who for many years studied the subject of death and the digital.  She is American-born, currently living in London where she has a psychotherapy practice.  Through her own experiences and those of many she interviewed, she shows us a picture of how these issues impacted them. 


How large is your digital footprint?  When you are gone, what will become of your accounts, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, email, eBay and whatever else is in your online life?  Kasket reports on various ways people use social media to grieve and how that impacts the people the deceased leave behind. 


Have you engaged in “sharenting?”  That is, creating a digital footprint for your child by sharing online pictures (in many cases starting with a sonogram) and anecdotes.  They will have a sizeable collection of online data by the time they can manage their own digital presence.  Once they become active on their own and should they pass away, will you have any access to or interest in managing or shutting down their accounts.  Kasket presents the challenges such circumstances bring about.


The author  gives the reader a thorough look at the digital/death situation. We all have experienced the birthday notifications and the memory posts Facebook puts on your page from time to time.  When those posts belong to a deceased friend or loved one, they can stir up some strong emotions.  The book is written in a rather scholarly manner, but it is heavily laced with examples of real people, living and deceased, to illustrate her points and make the topic understandable and interesting.  It’s worth your time to read this book and consider how the topic applies to you and your family members.

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