Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On Facebook Suicide and the Third Life

Emma Justice at the Times has written an interesting article describing what happens when Facebook users tire of The Book. They commit "Facebook Suicide"

As in the real world users are driven to suicide for a variety of reasons and as in the real world suicide groups exist to help users on their way. Several of the groups suggest a date when members will (or should have) exited their Facebook Life. Ironically wall posts indicate that some members realise that they have missed the boat and still have a presence in Facebook.

While I explored the Facebook suicide groups (cults), it was interesting to come across a message from Emma herself seeking cult members to help her with material for her article. Emma's request appeared exactly one month and one day before her article, which shows us how long a feature article can take to write and publish.

While exploring the suicide cults another group caught my attention. In the pessimistically named "If I died, who would change my Facebook status?" group, the material world imposes itself on virtual life. In a hearfelt wall posting Nikki Brady of Leeds summed it all up.
"i think there must be dead people all over facebook. i mean, what happens when you die? if no one knows your password, they cant log in, so you will be stuck in cyberspace forever, never changing. very strange to think about. although, what would your status say, really?

Nikki Brady
is still dead
Updated eternally"
Nicholas Carr at Rough Type pointed me in the direction of another newspaper article this time at the Guardian simply entitled "Broadband beyond the grave offers web service for the dead"
"Users of YouDeparted.com can issue posthumous instructions for everything from their funeral to feeding their pet, cancelling bills and magazine subscriptions, organising their will and other financial matters, sending final letters to friends - and foes - and delivering a valedictory video address summing it all up."
The fathers of the internet must be turning in their virtual space.

The image of Death's Dance can be seen at http://fantastic.library.cornell.edu/imagerecord.php?record=96

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