Social media use & the legacy contact conversation.

Contemporarily we live and exist in the real world and the virtual world all thanks to how ubiquitous internet use has become. Globally it is estimated there are just under 5 billion internet users today. We maintain a presence typically with multiple social media platforms. And we contribute to the many hours of consumable content shared in various formats. We write, we share images, videos, personal milestones, we build businesses, we maintain a presence online in our likeness. Online is referred to as the virtual world because it means being on or simulated on a computer or computer network according to And the same networks are accessible through mobile devices, the main device we use to access the internet.

 I wonder though, especially regarding our social media presence, do we consider it valuable to have a plan for when we die? Is having a clear preference and plan to enact the preference regarding our social media accounts when we die a worthwhile idea? We get funeral and life insurance policies to service the impact of death in the financial sense.  Socially and emotionally there are well established processes and rituals we follow, along familial and community lines. For the most part, each member of a family or community old enough to assume a role just automatically steps into place dutifully. These are some of the tactical ways we manage death.

 Does our use of the internet to maintain social media profiles mean considering tactical ways to manage our presence in the virtual world when we die? Mainly because in the virtual world we present in our true likeness, using our images, names and surnames. One notable tactical approach is the concept of legacy contacts. First introduced by Facebook in July 2019. Enabling that each Facebook user can add a legacy contact to their account to use this functionality. This is how it works. If you are 18 years or older, you can add a legacy contact by clicking Settings > Memorialization Settings > Typing in a friend’s name and clicking Add > and then clicking Send to let your friend know they are now your legacy contact. You can change your legacy contact by repeating the same steps, and once your account is memorialized your legacy contact will be notified. The benefits of having a legacy contact include the ability to post a final message or memorial information to your profile, updating profile pictures and cover photos, removing/deleting your account, and downloading a copy of your Facebook data. While a legacy contact cannot log into your account, read messages, or add and remove friends, they can help transition your Facebook profile

I have not added anyone to serve in this role regarding what happens to my presence in the virtual world, should I pass. I also have never had this conversation just in general to learn the various perspectives people may have on the idea. I think it would make for a multi layered likely divisive conversation among family and friends. I look forward to it. Much like the conditioning to have fully paid policies to alleviate the financial burden of death is a social norm. I think for 21st century people who exist in the virtual world. It becomes worthwhile to explore the legacy contact conversation. It would help to also be clear on why you would choose whatever approach regarding your internet footprint on the social media platforms that have this feature. In order to make a decision that best serves you. Which may include doing absolutely nothing, that would be a valid decision as well. There is no prescriptive way to go about this. I know this for now, giving someone in my life the responsibility to “care for my memorialised profile” isn’t something I can ask of anyone. My legacy contact would likely be instructed to delete the profile/s. Care for a memorialised profile feels like too much of an ask for me at this point. I think I have some homework to do to expand my understanding of what exactly that would entail.