May 31, 2010


How to Prepare for Your Digital Death

mskniss Contributor
By Amy Kniss, eHow Contributing Writer
(41 Ratings)

Prepare for your digital death.
Prepare for your digital death.
iStock, ianmcdonnell
Your mother always warned you to wear clean underwear, lest you (or she) be humiliated when you're caught dead in dirty drawers. Dying before clearing away your dirty digital laundry (like unfiltered IM, politically incorrect emails and overall TMI) is just as bad if not worse, since it colors how everyone in your social network remembers you.

Those of us stretched thin over social networks -- with multiple email accounts and never-ending status updates -- have much to lose if we don't take the proper precautions to protect our online legacy. Unless we plan ahead we risk being (at best) being forgotten or (at worst) over-exposed in front of our fellow social networkers. (Imagine mum finding her way in to your "Direct Message" tweets to your former flame.)

Dressing as a vampire, zombie or other specimen of undead on Halloween provides a playfully haunting reminder of our own mortality. Vampires and zombies fear neither death nor social shunning; if only the rest of us were so lucky.

But for mere mortals who need to think ahead, read on for instructions on prepping for your own digital death. If you want to keep your family from realizing that you really were the black sheep and save your postmortem reputation -- online -- keep reading and embrace your digital death like a zombie on Halloween.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You'll Need:

  • Safety deposit box
  • List of passwords and login info for social networks and online accounts
  • Trusted person
  • Final Status Update
  1. Step 1
    Appraise your digital assets today. Write down which social networking sites you belong to, what you use each one for and how often you use each. Rank them from highest to lowest, in terms of their priority in your life.

    If you've invested half of your waking hours on Facebook last year, then it probably ranks at the top of your digital priority list. If you're a workaholic and LinkedIn is where you live online then it would be your priority. If your loyal Twitter or blog followers would worry if you suddenly ceased posting, then these are audiences you should plan to have notified of your death.
  2. Step 2
    Protect your loved ones from learning more than they need to about your personal proclivities after you die: create a "black box" for the secrets you want to keep indefinitely. Begin by archiving your email and private messages into a single email account; take the account's secrets (and password) to the grave by continuing to filter sketchy, pervy or overly personal e-communications to this secret account.
  3. Step 3
    Use an alias to set up the account. You'll be protected even if your dearly departed catch wind of the account: it's difficult to prove next-of-kin status if the account isn't registered to you. Even a copy of your death certificate and proof of power of attorney won't be enough to obtain the password to your secret account or a copy of the email, according to the terms of use by major email service providers.
  4. Step 4
    Filter digital messages you want to preserve and keep private, in perpetuity, to the alias email account. Make sure to delete sent messages from the account you use to forward the messages. Also, delete all instant message conversations you do not want archived or relayed to your next of kin. Clearing your inbox and IM records of anything you may find embarrassing or too risqué to share with family or friends, even after death, makes it easier to rest in peace.
  5. Step 5
    Select a friend or family member (or lawyer) you trust to notify your virtual friends of your non-virtual death. You'll need to decide whether you will designate the person for the task in your will or shall rely on a less formal agreement; whichever you choose, it's best to ask your designee if he or she is up to the task of notifying members of your social network of your death.
  6. Step 6
    Finally, write your "Final Status Update." This post will be used to notify acquaintances that don't warrant a call, email or funeral invite (like LinkedIn contacts, Facebook friends that don't make the cut for personal notification, members of your Fantasy Football league, and other digital hangers-on) to notify them of your death. Your Final Status Update should reflect your personality and serve as an epitaph for your online legacy. Keep it short and sincere, unless you're known for being a caustic jerk online, in which case members of your social network may come together to celebrate your passing rather than mourn you.
  7. Step 7
    Make sure whomever you select to carry out your last wishes online has access to your Final Status Update when the time comes, knows where and when to post it and understands who to reach out to among your closer online contacts, and how to notify them personally (call, email, in person) of your death. Also, provide a list and contact information for those digital contacts you want notified of your death via a personal email or phone call. Make sure to specify the method of notification you prefer, if it matters to you.
  8. Step 8
    Remember to accompany the text of the post with a list of sites where your Final Status Update should be posted. This will require that you inventory your login information: usernames and passwords for all your online accounts so that your designee can easily perform the notifications, with access to your login info. Update this document on a regular basis; whether your updates occur once a week (if you owe money to the mob or have a terminal illness) or once a year (if you're healthy and aren't worried about getting hit by a bus tomorrow or next week) is up to you. Store this document in a safety deposit box or with your other sensitive documents.
Tips & Warnings
  • Include the photo sharing sites you use and a note about how many photos you've uploaded; this is less important if you have copies of the photos stored on your computer, where relatives can still access them after you die.
  • If you don't trust your designee 100%, you may opt to leave your login info in a safety deposit box and store the key to the safety deposit box in an envelope with the designee's name on it, with your other sensitive documents. That will ensure the designee gets the login info, but not before you die.
  • Hotmail, Yahoo! and Gmail will provide CD copies of your emails to a relative who can provide a copy of your death certificate and show of power of attorney, but not the password to your account.

May 20, 2010


“All I’m saying is that to liberate the potential of your mind, body and soul, you must first expand your imagination. You see, things are always created twice: first in the workshop of the mind and then, and only then, in reality. I call this process ‘blueprinting’ because anything you create in your outer world began as a simple blueprint in your inner world.”
~ Robin Sharma from The Monk Who Stole His Ferrari

May 15, 2010


"Time spent in the pursuit of adventure leads to more productivity, job satisfaction and profit, in all ways."
Bob Bannon
May 15, 2010

May 10, 2010


Cyber bullying, online predators, porn sites, sexting, texting while driving - the media seems to be full of stories about these issues and the devastation they are wreaking in our children's lives. Many lives are being destroyed in both a physical and emotional sense and as parents, many of us have felt powerless to prevent it. Parents everywhere have felt lost because we do not understand or comprehend it and simply pray that our own children are not being subjected to these threats.

  • 4 in 10 kids have been bullied online
  • 1 in 5 kids "admit" to sexting
  • 7 in 10 kids have received pornography
  • 2 X more kids are killed while texting and driving than drinking
  • 1 in 5 kids have been sexually solicited online
Police and child protection agencies suspect that these statistics are low and schools report a significant increase in the number of students who are suffering from depression and anxiety and attribute much of it to these problems. You and I used to pass written notes; today kids are texting from one side of the classroom to the other and the teachers are teaching to thin air. As parents, we have seen, firsthand, how our kids use their cellphones at the dinner table, while in restaurants, while doing homework or during family discussions
- is it any different at school do you suppose? 

The internet may very well be the greatest creation since the wheel but if we allow the dark underbelly of society to take control and ruin even one more life, then we all lose. Parents, teachers, grandparents - all of us have a vested interest in protecting children from the ravages of this insidious  tide of danger that lurks behind the anonymity of a computer screen. 

Banning or attempting to control access to the internet, creating laws that ban texting in vehicles, disallowing our kids from using their phones or social networks for porn or sexual curiosity, instructing them not to text with strangers - forget it - it does not work. Remember your own teen years when your parents forbade you from smoking, drinking, marijuana, underage sex - how did that work out? So, we know some of the problems but what can we do about it? There is a way for parents to regain some control and help their children to deal with these issues.

Find out more here.

If you think that you have "good" kids and therefore they are not subjected to these dangers, then pull your head out of the sand and think again. This is not about good kids or bad kids, this is about ALL kids. Check your TV listings and find a show on NBC - Dateline and check the episodes called "To Catch a Predator." This can happen to any child and you must know that even your child, might not tell their parents because they are afraid or because they simply are not sophisticated enough to recognize the danger.

You can prevent this from happening and take back your parental control and responsibility by going here.