I hope you don’t mind that I get a little bit morbid in this post, but this is a deep thought that occurred to me this week. Something has bummed me out the past few days, more than I thought it would. It was the death of someone that Male Mode Me follows on social media, first on Twitter and later on Instagram. I won’t identify this person, though I will describe him as quite the photographer. Yeah, photography was his passion, not to mention his profession (some of his work graced quite a few print-and-ink publications around here). And while I was attracted to his thoughts on current events at first (he was progressive, of course), he would put those thoughts (and retweets) to the wayside over time and concentrate on the images he would capture with his cameras, mainly the beauty around Lake Wingra, one of the many lakes around Madison, near which he and his family resided.
Perhaps his desire to capture more of images and less of politics had to do with his health. Though he did not disclose it to his social media followers as often as a teenager would post their love for their singing idol, he had made some passing indications that he was sick. Indeed, he took a break from Instagram earlier this year, only to post a couple of images earlier this summer of a hospital room’s window and a dialysis machine’s monitor. Then came one last photo on his Instagram feed taking a break from bicycling and capturing nature with his camera. The accompanying caption, posted by his daughter, included his birth and death dates.
As I noted above, this person’s passing left me a bit more stunned than I thought it would. No, I never met him in person, let alone follow him outside of social media. But I like to think that his ability to capture the moments and locations that surrounded him — from tall buildings to simple knickknacks, majestic trees to small flowers, bright and peaceful sunrises to haunting yet serene sunsets — inspired me (well, Male Mode Me) to expand my photography capabilities and caption writing beyond Twitter and onto Instagram. Note how I include “caption writing” in that last sentence, as his Instagram captions expanded on the image, the meaning of life, etc. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, but a few more words really helps to put things in context. Judging from his captions, he really had keen writing and communications skills in addition to his knack for capturing just the right image. It’s for sure that I won’t possess half the talent this person had in his life as a photographer, and probably a third of his talent as a writer. But at least I will still recall his work and gain at least some inspiration for the images I will try to capture in the future.
This person’s passing also reminded me that you can’t post a tweet or a blog entry from The Great Beyond, and with it I delve into the reason for this post’s title. As I’ve frequently mentioned on here, no one in my family nor any of my work colleagues knows of my female side, let alone the fact that my female side has a relatively active online/social media life. But his death — the first time someone I follow on social media (either as male or female) left this mortal coil — and the self-evident fact that his online presence is now being cared for by an heir, has me thinking about what should be done with my blog, e-mail, accounts, etc. once the time comes when I must… you know, relocate to a more peaceful place.
I vividly recall this article from a few years ago about a startup company here in Madison that specialized in the handling of one’s digital information and accounts after they pass on. The services they offered (for an annual fee) included designating an executor who would care for one’s e-mail, social media, etc. much in the same way they would carry out the provisions dictated in a will. Once one, uh, leaves the scene, their executor would be given the deceased’s accounts and passwords and would follow their wishes for continuance and/or disposal. This could include establishing an “In Memoriam” web page, offering words of gratitude on behalf of the deceased, or just completely deleting and shutting down the accounts (either immediately or at a set time).
I’m not sure if that particular business is still active, and if they are still active, the extent of services they’re still able to offer. And since it’s been several years since their profile article was published, it’s possible that social media companies may be more stringent about who accesses their users’ accounts, even after death. I believe Facebook, for one, may have some strict rules regarding the disposal of a deceased person’s account or page. But the sad news Male Mode Me encountered this week have made me pause to think about how I want to be remembered online once I… uh, you know.
Mind you, I am not sick at the moment, and I consider myself cautious enough to avoid being hit by a Mack truck, so I don’t expect to relocate to The Great Beyond anytime soon. But I must acknowledge the fact that one never knows when they must… you know… So, I gotta start thinking about what I will leave behind — both as my male side and as Allison. That will have to include my online and social media presences, which would have to involve not one but two people. Again, no one I’m related to knows of my female side, so while Male Mode Me would need his accounts cared for by someone close, Allison’s accounts will have to be handled by someone Allison knows either in person or online. Who would that person be? Well, I haven’t decided on that person yet, nor have I decided on who will care for the accounts Male Mode Me possesses. But if and when I do, it’s my hope that [A] they would accept their assignment willingly, and [B] they would offer a kind word or two about Allison, the better to help break the sad news to others who knew me online and/or in person and to help them remember the kind of person I was (which, hopefully, will leave them with a smile on their face).
Yeah, it would be a dark assignment, for sure. But to close on a somewhat brighter note, and to borrow a line from one of my previous works of prose, I’m not done yet. Oh, no, I’m definitely not done yet. I’ve got a lot of life left to live, not to mention a lot of things I hope to do between now and the time when… uh, you know. But when that sad day comes, I hope to assure that others will remember me as a humble, warm, friendly, caring person… as well as someone who was grateful for the kind words and friendship they sent my way.