The Final Status

in #HCSM/Life Beyond Medicine by

First up, listen to this awesome TED talk:

Now, Hindu mythology and scriptures deal extensively with life after death, but this talk brings out a totally new horizon! What happens to our online persona after we die? We are creating hundred of thousands of pieces of ourselves all over the world wide web as we evolve. After our destructible body is gone, these bits of information stay on, in the “cloud”, so to say…

There is a certain segment of people who find the notion that worrying about our 140 character avatars post our death to be a bit of an overkill. They believe that the internet and its claws have dug way too deeply into our existence anyways and we need to reclaim our lives. Worrying about how the world sees our Facebook profile, our Tweets or our Blogposts once we are dead and buried seems like giving up our vital moments of life worrying about something which we really will not have much control over.

Which brings me to the point that I think the narrator did not really get into in this talk. CONTROL. In today’s world, everything seems to be running away from us and we would like to have a semblance of control over the way the world sees us. More and more professional mores and codes determining how an individual should behave online are coming up so that the profession is not besmirched by the frivolities of the individual. More and more “miscreants” are being rounded up and getting their share of “justice” served on a platter… all so that we can control the way the world sees us. As it is, we have little control over how others react to our online life stream, and this obsession with controlling or intimating our deaths seems to be an extended version of the same show.

What difference does it make if the thousand Twitter followers or two thousand Facebook friends who would not even notice if we were dead and missing (unless we tweeted or blogged about it continuously) do not get to see that “final status update” that intimates them of our demise? What difference does it make to the actual people who would miss us whether or not we managed to post that final tweet: “So long earthlings… hasta la vista!”? What I am trying to say is that it sounds cool, it sounds like a fad, and it feeds our narcissistic egos that labor under the delusion that everyone cares and clings on to each and every word we spout, every pixel we upload.

Call me old fashioned, but I just hate it that we are letting the voyeuristic way of our internet lives dictate even our death wishes…

Skeptic Oslerphile, Scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

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