Our online presence has become an integral part of our identity in the digital age. While social media rightfully gets criticized for its addictive nature and divisive content, it also offers a unique opportunity to leave behind an ethical legacy for our descendants. Social media, in a sense, leads to immortality.
With this power comes responsibility.
How we use these platforms can shape the values, beliefs, and inspirations of future generations. I’m exploring the ways social media allows my clients to put down their thoughts and ideas, motivating and inspiring loved ones long into the future.
We discuss best practices, things to avoid, and the importance of answering the question, “How do you want to be remembered?”
Social Media as a Time Capsule
Imagine if our ancestors had access to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter (X), or Instagram. How precious would it be to have insights into their lives, thoughts, and values? Today, we have the power to create a digital time capsule that can resonate with our descendants for generations to come.
Here are some ways to make the most of this opportunity for digital immortality.
Authenticity and Transparency
If you want to build a meaningful ethical legacy, be authentic and transparent in your online presence. When posting anything, share your real thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Your descendants will appreciate your honesty and relate to your humanity.
Document and Inspire
Use social media to document your life lessons. Share personal stories of success, failures, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Encourage your loved ones to benefit from your experiences.
Share inspiring quotes, stories, and anecdotes that reflect your values. These snippets of wisdom serve as guiding lights for your descendants, helping them navigate life’s challenges.
Advocate and Promote Kindness
I didn’t always put a premium on kindness, especially in my online articles and columns. As a passionate – and progressive – political organizer for over three decades, I got salty occasionally. I hope future generations judge me fairly and witness my evolution into a kinder person as I got older and wiser.
If you’re passionate about certain causes or issues, use your online presence to advocate for them. Encourage your descendants to perform actions in line with this philosophy. Teach the importance of empathy by sharing stories and experiences that highlight its significance in building strong relationships and making the world a better place.
Remember that salty doesn’t age well. Spread grace and kindness through your posts. Encourage your followers to be compassionate and considerate in their interactions with others.
Social Media Immortality: Best Practices
While social media can be a powerful tool for leaving an ethical legacy, I encourage you to follow certain best practices.
Engage in meaningful conversations with your followers. Respond to comments and messages with thoughtfulness and respect. Be mindful of the content you share. Ensure it aligns with your ethical values and the legacy you want to leave behind.
Educate and Inform
Share educational content and valuable insights to help your descendants grow and learn. Your digital footprint lasts forever. Think about what future generations might take away from your views. Do you want them to be proud or ashamed? Ensure your posts reflect the values you want to pass on.
While transparency is essential, avoid over-sharing personal information or sensitive details. Don’t engage in online conflicts or spread negativity. Your online presence should inspire, not discourage.
Connecting with Loved Ones
Social media and its potential for immortality is also an excellent platform for connecting with loved ones. Use it to create private groups or pages where family members also share memories, stories, and updates. Share in the joy of birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones with your loved ones, even if you can’t be there in person.
Pass on Traditions
Use social media to document and pass on family traditions, recipes, and cultural heritage. Ultimately, your ethical legacy is a reflection of your values. Consider what virtues you want to emphasize. Share your wisdom and knowledge. Encourage lifelong learning and critical thinking.
How Do We Protect Our Social Media Presence After Death?
Protecting social media accounts is on my checklist for the dying. Here are some steps you can take to ensure digital immortality through properly managed social media accounts after you die.
Create a Digital Will
My clients often draft digital wills or add digital asset provisions to traditional wills. Specify how you want your digital assets, including social media accounts, to be managed after your death.
Designate a Digital Executor
Appoint a trusted friend or family member as your digital executor in your digital will. This person will be responsible for carrying out your wishes regarding your online accounts. Many third-party services and tools can also help you manage your digital legacy. These services will automatically handle your social media accounts according to your wishes after your death.
Provide Access Information
Share login credentials (usernames and passwords) for your social media accounts with your digital executor or a trusted individual. Ensure this information is kept secure and updated.
Use Different Platform Features
Some social media platforms, such as Facebook, offer a “Legacy Contact” feature. Designate a trusted friend or loved one as your legacy contact on these platforms. They can manage your account or memorialize it after your death. Also, review the privacy and account settings on your social media profiles. Some platforms allow you to specify what should happen to your account after your passing, such as account deletion or memorialization.
Regularly Update Information
Periodically review and update your digital will, login information, and instructions for your digital executor. Social media platforms and policies change, so keep your instructions current.
Consider Data Backups
Regularly back up any important content or data from your social media accounts. This ensures that valuable memories and information are preserved even if the accounts are deleted or deactivated. I help my clients create personal backups of their digital data, including emails, documents, photos, and more. These backups can be stored on external drives, cloud storage, or physical media.
Consult Legal and Financial Professionals
Seek advice from legal and financial professionals, such as estate lawyers or financial planners, who specialize in digital estate planning. They guide how to include digital assets in your overall estate plan.
Remember that the laws and policies regarding digital assets and social media accounts vary by jurisdiction and platform. Stay informed about these changes and take proactive steps to protect your digital legacy according to your wishes.
How Does Online Information Last Forever?
Online information has the potential to last indefinitely due to several factors.
Data stored on servers, cloud platforms, and digital archives persist for a long time, often indefinitely if properly maintained. Advances in storage technology ensure that data can be preserved for extended periods. Organizations and platforms also implement redundancy measures to prevent data loss, creating multiple copies of data across various servers and locations. This redundancy helps ensure data availability and durability.
Archiving and Backup
Many websites and platforms regularly back up their data and content. Even if a piece of information is deleted from the main interface, it may still exist in backups or archives, which are often retained for legal and historical purposes. Websites and online repositories, such as the Internet Archive, specifically aim to preserve web content for historical reference. They crawl and archive websites, making older versions of web pages accessible.
Institutions, libraries, and archives around the world also engage in digital preservation efforts. They work to ensure that significant digital content, such as websites, articles, and multimedia, is archived and accessible for future generations.
Social Media and Online Profiles
Social media platforms and online profiles can persist after a user’s death. Some platforms offer options for memorializing accounts or designating legacy contacts, allowing content to remain accessible. They use data mining and web scraping techniques to collect and analyze online information. This data can be archived and used for various purposes, including research, marketing, and historical documentation.
Legal and Regulatory Frameworks
Some legal and regulatory frameworks require the retention of certain types of data for specific periods. This is common in industries such as healthcare, finance, and law enforcement.
In some cases, my clients pass down their digital assets, including online accounts and data, to their heirs as part of their estate planning. This can result in the continued existence of online information.
It’s important to note that while online information can persist, its accessibility and relevance may vary over time. Formats can become obsolete, servers can fail, and websites may change or disappear. Additionally, privacy considerations and legal regulations can affect the availability and retention of certain types of data. Therefore, when it comes to personal online information, consider your digital legacy and take proactive steps to manage and protect your data according to your wishes.
In the End
Social media has the potential to be a powerful tool for immortality. You leave behind an ethical legacy for your descendants. Inspire and connect with future generations by being authentic, transparent, and thoughtful in your online presence. Remember to adhere to best practices, avoid negativity, and use social media to promote virtues like wisdom, kindness, and empathy.
Contact me anytime to answer the question, “How do you want to be remembered?” and together we’ll make sure your online legacy reflects the values that matter most to you, leaving a lasting impact on those who come after you.