Will You Have a Cyber Funeral?

Will You Have a Cyber Funeral?

At a writing class in school, the teacher asked us all to write our obituaries. An odd exercise for beginning writers and other weirdo creatives, perhaps to judge what they think of themselves and their relationships with those around them?

Maybe it’s useful as a way to set one’s goals? Maybe the teacher just wanted to spend an hour of silence because he was unprepared.

Life After Death on the Internet

Momento Mori – Remember You are Mortal

The brilliant student, self-important, delusional obituaries were the usual smattering of “New York Times bestselling author” and “retired billionaire author.” Mine simply read, “the remains of a man discovered in dense jungle of the Amazon basin have yet to be identified.”

That’s how I wanted to go. For people to ask others, “I wonder whatever happened to him?”

Image credit: Bigstockphoto

I knew that it wouldn’t work out that way and while I would probably die some horrid New York City death, not gruesome enough for page one but enough that a lifetime of living there, mixed with the publicity, would assure me of a full audience at my funeral.

In my last few years in New York, several friends passed away. At their funerals, I reconnected with people I hadn’t seen for some time. We always chatted about our departed friend, his/her life, how we met him/her and would our own funerals pull in this many people. We all promised to attend each other’s funeral and at least bring a date to fluff up the numbers.

After moving away, living in several cities, a few years here, a few years there, connecting to people on Facebook to keep up the friendship, I realized that one day, I would stop posting and wondered how long it would take someone to realize I had died. Maybe my family would post something? What about LinkedIn, Pinterest and my other social platforms that would stop, dead.

Cyber Life is Ridiculous!

Someone once said “Twitter is where we tell strangers the truth and Facebook is where we lie to our friends.” Pinterest is like a cyber sex toy and StumbleUpon is that autistic cousin you dreaded having over to your house so he could break all of your toys!

Borg Love
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

People seem to agree when I rant about husbands and wives who have lovey-dovey Facebook posts and comments back and forth to each other, often from the same house, and, as I have discovered from some of my “know-too-much-about-them-now-to-ever-face-them-again” friends, they are both sitting on the same couch. Get off the internet and prove your love to each other. Why would WE want to hear your love pledges? They will still be there, in your Facebook history, the posts we can bring up later when “Schmoopie” is divorcing “Poopie-pie” because of a few loose and wild penises in the wrong places.

There is Digital Beyond Death

You’ve probably heard of services that will post a last message from you once they are notified you have passed on and will tweet no more. A digital epitaph for the eternity of electricity on this planet.

Image credit: Bigstockphoto

And then there’s the services for QR codes placed on your tombstone, linked to a video of you and your life. Personally, as uttered by Dorothy Parker, “I don’t care what they write about me, as long as it’s not true.”

The kind of person I am, I would like cyber connections to know I died, rather than I was being rude and ignoring them. It would surely make them feel better.

Friends, and memories being what they are, people will click on your profile every now and then, looking over past posts and pictures. Our digital aura will forever shine.

Resting In Peace

There are also services that will wipe you out from the web, either because you want to disappear and start a new life, or because you don’t want the old stories, photos and posts remaining to haunt you when you can’t defend yourself. As Oscar Wilde said, “biography lends to death a new terror.”

I had an agreement with my best friend in New York to get into my apartment and clear out anything that might be embarrassing so my parents wouldn’t find it all while packing my belongings if I ever “bit the big one.”

When my time comes, and my kids have instructions to hold a pillow over my face if I ever have to go to a nursing home “until daddy stops kicking and farting” (unfortunately they tried that night and I had to remind them, while gasping for breath, that I meant IN a home and not AT home), I know my licensing design work will dot people’s collectable stashes in closets, basements and attics. My work in publications will continue to yellow on a shelf somewhere and my articles around the web will still get a hit or two every day. My blog will continue to have spam pile up, my email account will flood to the breaking point, my Photobucket and Flickr accounts will stand forever as a gallery to my work and life in images and my Google Ranking will continue to show up, at least on the first page.

That’s good enough for me. I always hated crowds and crying. Now, what to do with the body?

Speider Schneider has designed products for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, LucasFilms, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among other notable companies. He’s a former board member of the Graphic Artists Guild and co-chair of the GAG Professional Practices Committee. He also speaks at art schools across the United States and writes articles on business and professional practices for books and global blogs.

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