Sunday, January 25, 2009

What happens when you die?

I know what happens when you die -- you become worm food. I mean, when you live a secret life online and you have surrounded yourself with a community of friends who do not know your real identity and have no way of contacting you outside of a web forum or an anonymous will they ever know?

I got to thinking about this because someone in the community that I know pretty well suddenly went silent for a month. This was someone who I talked to every few days, maybe every week, in e-mail. They aren't much for forums, but they are also kind of busy in real life and it was the holidays, so I wouldn't usually freak out. But we were talking about an active creative project back and forth, and then, nothing. There was a lot to talk about and they're usually pretty gregarious.

So I started assuming the worst. The person lost their job and had to restructure their life for a while. The person got "found out" and has to manage their face-to-face relationships with people who now think they're an online pervert or predator. Maybe they took ill, got hit by a bus or something, and have been laid out in a hospital bed. Maybe they had a death in the family and were grieving privately and didn't want to focus on such frivolous stuff as this.

Or maybe it was both of the last two combined -- maybe they got hit by a bus and the death in the family was their own. Oh fuck.

I care about this person, so after a month of emails and a few phone calls -- a friend of a friend had their number -- they wrote back, which seems to confirm that they are alive. I don't know why they've been quiet, and perhaps it's not my business -- but I'm happy just to know that they are still here, which is all I was trying to learn.

My wife knows about my fetish; she knows my alias, she knows my password, and she knows who I know in real life. When I snuff it, she can log in to my account, write to one or two people, and tell them to spread the news, so the community doesn't endlessly wonder "What happened to Inflate123? Why doesn't he post any more? When is the next story coming out? And what about Airy Tales? He's such a slacker." She'll be able to say, no, he's not a deadbeat; he's just dead.

Do you have a death plan for the community? Is it even feasible in your situation? Or do you not even want people to track you that much?

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