When more folks today seem interested in protecting their anonymity online, and are even concerned with the death of a social networking account following an actual physical loss of life, it’s important to take a few moments to step back and reconsider the beauty of remembrance and its potential for immortality. For example, Dan Fletcher’s widely circulated article discussing net-death, “What Happens to Your Facebook After You Die?”, appeared on Time.com in October 2009. The article was prompted by the blog entry “Memories of Friends Departed Endure on Facebook”> posted by the social network’s founder, Max Kelly, who spoke about “memorializing” instead of deleting profiles, allowing users to visit friends for as long as their server is up. Kelly’s thread that was prompted by the death of his own best friend, and his own desire not to simply forget. Fletcher’s article demonstrates that many folks genuinely want to know that the net has the ability to forget, though seasoned users know about the near immortality of the cache!
Unlike most other people I know who are around age 30, I think about death a lot. As a gay man, I grew up in a time and place that placed death at my doorstep. HIV/AIDS has lost its initial tag as the Gay Plague (G.R.I.D.), though the attachment to the lives of gay men seems indelible. Although I am trained in, and now work towards HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, and have over the years befriended many people living with AIDS, I still vividly recall the first time that I knowingly met a seropositive individual.