What Will be Your Digital Legacy?

Written by Tim Whitley on Monday, September 28, 2015

Each of us leaves a legacy. Will your legacy be your children, grandchildren, your employees, the work you have accomplished in a third-world country or simply how much you loved? This is something that we think about as we age.

I am a Christian who believes that the Lord does have a plan for each of us. He has a file on each of us of when we are born, what we do with our lives and when our time is up. When I was growing up, I always wondered what that file said about me. What was my future going to look like? Was I going to have children or die at an early age?

The biological clock is against us. That is why we have wills, trusts and discussions with our loved ones about what we want at our funeral or, most importantly, what we do not want. I have a will, a trust and specific instructions on how my company is to live past my death. I also have specific instructions on how the nonprofits I care so much about are to be taken care of. That all being said, what will my digital legacy be?

What will be my last tweet, Facebook post, LinkedIn update? Will I be venting because Tony Romo is out for 8 weeks due to an injury, or a frustration moment of a flight delay and venting to @AA with a nasty hashtag?  

The last ______ will be your digital media legacy. Your last text, Internet history, search history, email, HipChat message, etc. will be looked at by the people who are closest to you for months, years and decades to come.  

My sister died 5 years ago this month and I remember her last Facebook post, Facebook message and texts. Or another example: A kid I grew up with and held close to me as if he were my younger brother passed away unexpectedly a year ago, leaving a legacy that his mom views every day as has his smartphone: last photo, text, email, music, videos, phone calls, voicemails, tweets, etc. These last memories will become an imprint of his legacy just as my sister’s last messages are.

Think about this. If you are around my age, 32, you have had grandparents pass away. We do not have information to hold on to that will remind us of their digital lives. I do not have any Facebook messages, tweets, posts, texts, videos, etc. to help me remember them. I only have my memories, which continue to fade each year.

You will have a polarize reaction to this article. You either have a history that verifies what I am saying and understands the stream of consciousness or you are against the very thought of data capturing. Believe it or not, as this generation begins to die off, we will have decades of a digital legacy that will be analyzed by our loved ones.  

There are websites that are built around this generation dying. They offer services that will store your passwords and usernames of your iCloud, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail, Pinterest, Apple, MacBook, etc., all for your loved ones to access your information. Hopefully, my family will go in and delete all my embarrassing moments before someone scrolls too far back in the timelines.

There are even services that upon your death will send out your final social media postings, blogs or articles. Would you write a farewell message to be stored until the day you pass? It might be that final imprint you want to make on your loved ones.  To tell them the things you were too stubborn to say or didn’t say before time just got away from you.  

What will your last tweet or Facebook post be?