The Digital Lie and Eternal Life

Eternal life via the internet. Why not? In a culture where spiritual inspiration comes to you through chain emails and your philanthropic duty of the day is heeding the plea to “please keep this moving and forward to ten people in the next five minutes,” why wouldn’t we reduce a complex concept like eternal life to our standing on the internet when we die?

No, this isn’t about the idea of being able to upload our brains and live on forever in the machine.

While the temptation to go SciFi (SciFuture?) is certainly present as I write this, it’s not really the point. The point is that (offering myself as the examination lamb as I am wont to do), my own Facebook page has a quiz result posted under my “boxes” tab that says I’m going to Valhalla when I die. While a Facebook quiz is among the most ridiculous of examples, it actually illustrates the point well. I can just see myself…dead…and a friend goes to my Facebook, because who is really going to think of taking my page down or have the passwords to be able to do it? I can see that friend giving a little chuckle, and musing over where I might actually be.

I’ll tell you where I think I’ll be. I think I’ll be spending my afterlife doing petty hauntings to people upon whom I’m still holding a grudge. I can pretty much promise you that I’m not doing anything half as cool as eternally drinking mead with long dead Norse warriors.

But what a splendid idea it is that I can present myself exactly how I want people to see me in my life via the web and also have that be what’s left behind when I die! Believe me, the thought has crossed my mind that someone might even stumble upon this very blog and remember me as a writer, although I didn’t have to have published squat to post it. Or maybe I’ll be remembered as a social commentator, although my college transcript will show one (1) Sociology class.

However, this brings us to the other side of the argument. You do not need a degree to be an observant human being, a great performer, a brilliant artist, or a poignant writer. That’s an idea imposed upon us by meatspace. Therefore, the internet is a great place to find and use your voice. The idea that you can be heard, read, “known” and remembered on the internet without any credentials can be a blessing provided you don’t allow yourself to buy into the lie. Having a website doesn’t make you talented, but if you are talented, a website is a great place to direct someone who may be interested in making use of your abilities. Hopefully, you’re still alive for that.

Memorial sites are beautiful things. Not only do they eliminate the depressing graveyard (although I personally really like graveyards), but people can post in writing and pictures how they remember the deceased. So now, people’s memories of the dead will be around for the world to see at least as long as the site remains, or until a site administrator takes down the post. After all, you probably won’t see a whole lot of memorial sites with posts that say, “F*#k him. He was a douche bag and he ran over my dog.” Showing some respect and not speaking ill of the dead are meatspace courtesies that should be observed in cyberspace too.

I love the internet. Way to go, cyberspace! I wouldn’t dream of condemning the place I come to do just about anything. And as of yet, I’ve not written the Great American Novel; I’ve won no special awards. There’s not a whole lot for which I’d be remembered in meatspace, but as long as Google exists and my pages are still up, a part of me exists.

Let’s just hope there aren’t any unflattering nudie pictures of me out there.

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