Online social media has been around since the early 2000’s and is only growing and increasing in popularity generation by generation. A study done by the University of Oxford found that the dead could outnumber the living on Facebook by as early as 2070. This is just one small example of an unresolved digital legacy. Digital legacies span a wide array of events and experiences, both online and offline. It includes your whole digital footprint and for many, that can mean some possible unsavoury online moments, profiles, searches, or content.
We also want to consider all our positive impacts and experiences we have online, like meeting good friends or perhaps your significant other. So much of our lives is built through our online presence, to lose these experiences and memories would be tragic. Not to mention so many people conduct business, invest, and build tangible assets through the internet. These assets are considered a digital estate that should be passed down to your heirs.
With countless hours spent online over a person’s lifetime, a person can accumulate on average 150 online accounts! Additionally, with more companies and brands with valuable resources and services popping up every day, we continue to build our online footprint and legacy. When we’ve reached the end of our lives, these accounts need to be settled. While many may not contain any actual value, some of these accounts may contain valuable communications, messages, photos, and other content that friends and family may want to get a hold of. Other online accounts may have been crucial to a person’s life, like online banking accounts and accounts used to pay bills.
Also, as we continue to digitize most of our lives through social media and other content sharing platforms, many of our memories live online and nowhere else. Many people are also considering using technology to future-proof and preserve older memories. Most Boomer and Millennial generations own memories contained in older technological formats that are now considered obsolete but they shouldn’t be lost! Scanning developed photos, converting recordings, and videos to a new format will allow you to share these memories with all your family and friends regardless of where they live.
Whether you intend to keep your online presence a secret or perhaps there are important memories that you don’t want lost, you need to settle your digital legacy and have a plan for it after death.