I’m going to talk about a subject that many of us don’t like to discuss – death.
I ran across a column in The Washington Post about “Facebook memorials”. It’s an interesting read about the different options that can come up when someone with a Facebook account dies and how you can pay respects online. You might want to check it out. My biggest takeaway from the article was that I need to have an opinion about what happens to my social media accounts when I die. Here are some of the things that I’ve started thinking about that you might want to consider as well:
Should I retire some social media accounts before? Granted, because of HR Bartender and Unretirement Project, I’m out on quite a few social media networks. But will I need to maintain all of them as I get older? Probably not.
How will I know when to retire a social media account? It’s easy to say that I might not need to be out on every social media network forever. That being said, I do need to think about what the conditions are for retiring a social media account. Right now, it’s kinda willy nilly. Oh, Google+ is shutting down? Okay, I’ll close my account. That logic might not be the same with Twitter.
How should I close an account? The answer to this question might seem obvious, but I’m not so sure. Some people close accounts by contacting the organization and officially “closing the account”. Others do it by simply not using it anymore. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. If you’re wavering on whether or not to use a social media network anymore, maybe it makes some sense to not use it for a while to confirm your decision. That way if you miss the interaction, you can easily go back.
Do I want and/or need a record of the account before I close it? Many social media platforms give you the ability to download your historical record. I must admit that I’ve never really utilized this option, but could it be worth my time to download my history before closing the account.? I honestly don’t know. However, I do think it’s worth some research and a conversation. And if you do decide to get the record, what are you doing to do with it?
Who do I need to inform about my social media accounts? What I’m talking about here are logins and passwords. Chances are you’re going to change your password regularly between now and then, so you don’t want to have to notify family or friends every time you do. (And if you’re not planning to change your password, you should.) Have a place – like a password manager – where people will be able to easily find so that, in the event of your death, they can access your accounts and follow your wishes.
I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of the things we have to consider when it comes to social media and our passing. But it’s an important conversation. Our identities are out there and the last thing any of us want is our identity to be compromised. So, we want to be able to enjoy social media while we can and put the pieces in place for it to be handled appropriately when we’re not here anymore.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring Disneyland in Anaheim, CA