The ancients had cave paintings for mass communication. The ancients after them had hieroglyphics for mass communication. The ancients after them had social media. Err… The currents now have social media. But, are we soon to be ancients? This isn’t some philosophical question, but more of a thought-starter question. There is one common thing among cave paintings, hieroglyphics, and social media… they were all revolutionary and completely change how we communicated with each other and shared knowledge. Additionally, they all heavily relied on the use of image-based communication. As history is bound to repeat itself, emojis are just a new kind of hieroglyphic. Will scholars hundreds of years from now know what you truly meant when you sent that latest string of emojis? If they do, it’s only because it’s much better documented now than it ever was in the past. We currently see social media as the epitome of what communication can be. Able to share a thought with someone across the globe in a heartbeat is something out of Star Trek. We’ve come so commonplace with it now that it is no longer revolutionary, and we just use it to use it. The same can be said about cave paintings and hieroglyphics. They were so monumental that the users thought they would always be used in a communication setting. So, are we wrong about social media? Is it going to be the end all be all form of communication the human race has been trying to perfect for hundreds of years? We can’t really say right now. But, better yet… will social media ever die itself and what happens to your social media when you die?
Facebook and other forms of social media will never truly disappear. They might change drastically but at the core, they will still be fairly relevant. Will some die? Sure. Brands like Twitter and Snapchat are suspected to die sooner than later. Unlike the cave paintings and hieroglyphics though, social media is so widespread that it can’t go the way of the cave paintings – but parts of it can. Even MySpace is still a thing and it hasn’t been a thing for a long while. Ask a teenager what MySpace is and see how old you feel after their response. Will Facebook disappear? Hard to say, but the more and more our thoughts are put out there and the more they get hounded on, the quieter we will become. Have you ever gone to the comments section just to read the comments? Sure, you have. Why didn’t you comment? Was it because you didn’t want to start a fight and you just wanted to observe? Well, then you are slowly helping kill aspects of social media. Social media was built on the principle of sharing your thoughts on whatever you wanted. However, if people fear to do so, refuse to do so, or are constantly told “if you fight on social media, no one wins”, then soon enough social media will enter a fight or flight mode and we will witness a very significant shift in habits. It feels almost like a daily occurrence where someone tweets out something they didn’t mean to or private messages a nasty message to someone and it gets leaked. In every comment section, you will witness the “If you don’t like this, then unfollow this” or the band of Internet “trolls” that salivate at every opportunity to poke and prod until they get some full-blown anger response. Even a photo from Friday night could prevent you from getting the job Monday morning or worse, losing your job Monday morning. Social media has lost its inclusive ability and is causing people to say they are “taking breaks” and “deleting this app” because they’d now rather be quiet than say what they want to say. Keep in mind that the inability to openly communicate without repercussion is what has caused some civilizations to fall.
It’s always interesting to watch social media kill off someone who is actually still living (I think Jackie Chan has died around 6 times now). However, what happens when you actually die? Your profile is still there, but you aren’t – acting almost like a shrine of your former self. Let’s break it down into the numbers and then we should get a better glimpse at how crazy this question isn’t and just what social media companies are doing about deaths. In a research document by XKCD, they discovered that within the first 8 years of Facebook’s existence, 30 million users had died. By doing a little bit of math with today’s current mortality rates and Facebook’s user rate, we can surmise that around 1,579 people who use Facebook die every hour which means around 37,896 dies every day and 13,642,560 die every year. That’s a lot of haunted Facebook pages. So, what happens to these pages? Well, there are a couple of things you should be aware of. Regarding your data, in almost all cases, you still own all your data even though there might not be Facebook where you now are. Also, your privacy is still protected! Unless, of course, legal means of access are obtained. In regard to actually deleting your page, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google, all require a Death Certificate in addition to either an ID, proof you are an immediate family member, or the deceased person’s email address. A little complicated, but it’s not like you need to worry about it! Out of these companies, Facebook allows for the best feature. Instead of just straight up deleting your page and banishing your social existence to a dark corner of the Internet, Facebook allows for a family member to turn your page into a memorial page. This allows current friends to post on the page, tag photos, and some other basic Facebook functions. In other words, Facebook has made it hard to delete your Facebook even when you can never use it again. That’s some next level branding. But, why would you delete it anyway? Facebook already has some of your best-kept records on it, and they will only get better with time. Imagine your great-great-great grandkids trying to figure out who their great-great-great grandpa was. Instead of digging through albums of dust covered photos and trying to piece together little aspects of your life, those distant relatives will be able to go to Facebook and see your progression through time when you were active on Facebook – including your thoughts on random happenings during that time! The closest thing to this kind of “mind capturing” was postcards sent to relatives. However, even those though were so few, or lost, or ruined that it can’t compare. Nothing like Facebook’s “mind capturing” ability has ever truly existed before. It’s like Facebook is the secret to eternal life. XKCD did some math and projected that if Facebook keeps growing at its current rate, by the year 2130, the dead will outnumber the living on Facebook making it some creepy virtual graveyard where remembering the dead will be more prominent than remembering the living. Not sure if that is a selling point or a deal breaker… Actually, we wonder more about what otherworldly spirit will be the first to haunt Facebook? So as Tom is bound to haunt MySpace for the rest of eternity, maybe you will hold the title of the Facebook Ghost. Have no fear though because if you are reading this right now, either Facebook itself will be dead, you will be dead, or both. Cheers!
Written By Brian Flick