Yes, we can live on…forever…or at least as long as the internet exists. I’ve been cleaning up folders on my hard drive and came across a collection of some very strange but interesting articles on this topic of virtual immortality. Your cyberself now has the power to live on beyond your physical existence. We know we should be careful as to what we post, as our words might come back to haunt us, no pun intended. In the 4 articles listed below I will describe how.

Tweeting from the death bed – Capturing the last moments for eternity.

Virtual Mourning – Websites that let mourners reach out to family or to gather together virtually after someone dies.

Tweeting from beyond the grave – allowing a deceased to have a virtual avatar that continues to post, post-mortem.

Your words live on – Virtual Immortality through Facebook, blog posts, et al that never get taken off the Web.

My post today, “Tweeting from the death bed – Capturing the last moments for eternity.” references a posting by Art Caplan, who is from the Division of Medical Ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. He posted it to Medscape, an online medical reference website. His question was “In this world of constant communication, real time updates, and the need to be ‘connected’ here is a twist on the use of Twitter: is it ethical to tweet from someone’s deathbed?”

His article goes on to describe how it’s become common place for individuals related to the terminally ill person to send tweets and e-mails to update friends and relatives, with some going even farther by posting feeds to Youtube. Of course this is all possible because our devices have become small enough to take anywhere and Wifi connectivity is all pervasive. That wasn’t so even 5 years ago. But Caplan finds ethical problems with all this ability to document a person’s last hours in real time. Yes, he says, it is wonderful that family members not able to be there in person can be connected with a dying loved one. However, if the loved one is no longer able to make decisions, is that what the person would want? Hooked up to IVs and other devices, lying prone in a hospital or hospice bed, maybe not even conscious, is that how he or she wishes to be remembered?

He also states that it would be a good idea, in this technologically connected world, that everyone writes down directives as to what should be allowed and not allowed in those last days. My concern is not what family members see but that these photos, taken in the person’s most vulnerable moments are hardly a dignified representation of a human’s life. They then can become the final and eternal memory about that person. I surely wouldn’t want to be remembered by a picture of respirator tubing coming out of my mouth!

In my next post I’ll write about “Virtual Mourning”.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s