Why Prepping For Your Digital Afterlife Should Be Done Individually
As much as we hate to admit it, death is inevitable. We’ve found ways to prolong our lives and the quality of our lives, but we haven’t discovered a way to eliminate mortality, and we probably won’t. Oh sure, there’s hope that maybe-just-maybe some tech company will come up with a way to remove all of our brainpower from these dying bodies and place them into a synthetic form capable of living forever, but try not to hold your breath for it. If you do, you’ll die long before it ever happens.
Yes, death will come, and when it does, most of us will leave behind someone we love to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, as prepared as many of us are when it comes to this reality, we lack the foresight regarding our digital footprints.
And that is becoming an area of death that is more and more important.
Vice recently shared an excellent breakdown of the various digital afterlife agencies out there vying for your business. Out of the rather large field of competition, Yahoo! Ending from Yahoo! Japan is one of the most promising. From the Washington Post:
A basic package offered through Yahoo! Japan costs about $4,500, including the funeral, embalming and cremation, plus a wake for 30 people. Feeding guests at the wake costs an extra $30 per person, and for an additional $1,500 you can get a monk to perform at the funeral.” You can then set instructions to delete internet histories, pass social media account details on (or close them) and cancel any direct debits made through your Yahoo! wallet.
Vice also highlights other services like DeadSoci.al, Deathswitch, and IfIDie1st. While each service differs in what it offers and costs, the point is the same. Your death is not your digital end as long as there is a Facebook or online banking account waiting for you to close down. That being said, we’d like to share our reasons why you should consider avoiding these services and doing it all yourself.
One: You Can’t Be Sure Of The Security.
Placing your entire digital life into the hands of a single company makes your data pretty insecure. Massive cyber attacks happen almost daily, and much bigger and more powerful companies than any of those mentioned above have been victimized. With digital afterlife services, it’s not a question of if an attack will occur, but when.
Two: You Could End Up Outliving The Company.
Since decisions like this take time to execute — and by time, we mean “your death” — there are no guarantees. Who’s to say that you won’t go into a coma tomorrow and the company you entrusted goes out of business during the period between your coma and your death? That could leave your data in a bind.
Three: If You Want A Job Done Right…
If you don’t want your family members getting notifications from your Facebook account long after you’re dead or watching helplessly as a cyber-crook steals your identity and “virtually resurrects” you, then it’s important to do the job yourself. As alluded to by the two reasons listed above, you cannot be 100 percent certain that a company will act on your behalf, or be there to act on your behalf, after you’re gone. Therefore, if you want something done right, you’d better do it yourself. And if you choose to do it yourself, it can lead to the last and most beneficial reason.
Four: It Forces You To Confront Your Own Mortality.
How is this a good thing? When you sit down, pen-and-paper in hand, and start listing all of your accounts and assets, it opens the door for considering your other, more valuable holdings. Many people in America don’t want to think about their deaths. It’s all you can do to get them to buy insurance, and if they do buy it, then it becomes a chore getting them to revisit it for necessary updates. We’ve got a mindset to do the bare essentials and then never think about it again. When you undertake the tricky task of closing out your digital footprint, it gets you in the proper frame of mind to address other more pressing issues.
Death is scary, and it isn’t the type of thing we feel good thinking about; however, it’s important to put yourself in a loved one’s position. If you’re gone, what are all the issues they will have to deal with as a result? By doing this, you can ensure a smoother transition and give your family time to cope and to mourn without being hurt by digital reminders. We suggest listing out all your digital accounts and also working with your agent to make sure you haven’t left anything out. From there, make the hard, uncomfortable choice of sitting down and closing out all the accounts you don’t need on your own. If your health is in question, appoint a trusted digital executor to handle things for you, and make sure they have all the log in/security information needed to take it from there.