Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"Tell them I'm dead."

Someone needs to develop an "Ex Mortis" app: an app that will immediately announce your death to everyone in your social ambit. Since you're dead, you obviously wouldn't be the one to announce your death, but some kind person needs to let Great Aunt Myrtle know via Facebook that her handsome grandnephew has quite suddenly carked it. The app would require you to assign one or more "keepers" whose job it would be to let everyone know of your demise. These keepers would normally not have access to your password-protected email and social-media accounts, so they'd be given a code that would allow them temporary access—one and done, SnapChat-style—just enough for the keepers to shoot off the announcement and plunge your social circles into mourning. The app would monitor how many times your various keepers attempted to make the announcement; only the first keeper would be permitted to do so, and any subsequent keepers would be shut out and sent a flag saying "This announcement has already been made," unless those keepers have been tasked with making the announcement in different languages.

The app isn't without its problems. I don't know the particulars in terms of privacy issues; Ex Mortis would essentially be an act of giving a small cluster of trusted people very temporary access to all your social-network contact lists, which could get awkward. And I can envision potential for abuse: false alarms, account hacking, obscenely worded death announcements because one of your keepers turns out to be someone who has secretly hated you, etc.

Perhaps the app could go further and do the deceased the courtesy of closing all social-media accounts. On my blog's sidebar, I have a short list of blog followers, and I know that at least one of those people is dead. Her name and image remain on the list, though, which is a mite eerie. Ex Mortis could, with the proper permissions, provide social closure.

The name "Ex Mortis" means "out from death." An announcement of your death, precipitated by you, would feel very much like a message from the dead, would it not? Especially if the death announcement is creepily worded in the first person: "Hey, guys. Yuppers—I'm dead. Just so you know, there'll be a reading of my will exactly ten days from the date that's time-stamped to this announcement, okay? See you there! Well, uh... I won't be there, but you'll at least... see... each other. Uh, yeah—rock on!"

Something to think about, anyway.


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