Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogging after death

The other night I decided to take a late-night trip to the gym and work off a little pent-up energy. I thought it would be a good way to burn off the junk food I had consumed during snack day at work and to work off the late-night latte I had after church. It was also an excuse to get out and onto a treadmill, where I like to let my thoughts run while my legs try to keep pace.

There was plenty on my mind, made evident by the distance tracker that displayed the three miles I covered while switching between my John Mayer Pandora station, the iPad edition of Relevant Magazine, and a couple of interesting TED Talks.

The strangest part was that even after trekking three miles in place at heading home, I still felt as much, if not more, energy than when I started. I know that exercise is just as likely to increase energy as deplete it but I was really hoping to exhaust my mind and my body for a good night's rest.

Maybe another day I'll get into some of what was keeping me so energized but in the meantime I wanted to share one of the possible reasons I left the gym with more intensity than when I entered.

Check out this TED Talk from Adam Ostrow. It's just five and a half minutes...

Adam Ostrow: After your final status update | Video on

Alright, now that you've watched the video, let's discuss. And in case you didn't watch it, let's summarize. Basically, the speaker, Adam Ostrow, postulates that after we die, our social networks still play a role in the aftermath of our lives. I don't think it's any huge leap of understanding to realize that social media, with all of it's novelty, will change how we approach and what happens post mortem. Technology has and will always change how we handle death. Something as simple as the video camera meant we could share our final thoughts with our loved ones after we pass. Photo albums and home videos meant we could relive memories in a new way that simply wasn't possible before the creation of that particular technology.

Now we live in an age where we are posting pictures and videos and bits of our daily lives consistently and over a large portion of our lives that can potentially live on indefinitely, "in the cloud" as Ostrow puts it. He explores this concept to a very interesting end but I'd like to focus on the idea of a blogger's afterlife.

Specifically -- What happens to Follow Eric when Eric is no more? It's not morbid, it's just reality. It's something that I'm strangely comfortable thinking about at times. Years ago I wrote a short story about a woman with breast cancer planning out her own funeral. It lead me to develop a screenplay exploring the rest of the story, involving her family and the circumstances before and after her death. Again, it wasn't a morbid story, just reality. In fact, to stay true to life, I put many hours of research at the library and talked with people who have been affected by cancer to capture the reality of coping with the disease and the real possibility of death. Maybe it was just the fact it's breast cancer awareness month that made me think of that but before October is over I'll try to share some of the writing.

I may not be facing a life-threatening disease but the reality is we all face an eventual, inevitable death. I've considered what would happen to this blog and I realize that in some part, it represents a bit of my legacy. I'm leaving behind a log of my life, summed up in thoughts, photos, videos, capturing events, moments and accomplishments.

In the end, I want to be proud of what I've accomplished and know that I've left a lasting legacy. It's something that's been on my mind since before watching Ostrow's video and it will continue to fester in my mind and with great hope, it will lead to a greater purpose in my own life that will be reflected in Follow Eric. I've already got some ideas brewing and this only serves to pump me up and keep me going. Just wait for the next Blogathon and maybe you'll start to get the idea...


Sherry Rice said...

My brother had a lot of social network sites where he played a big role and he wrote on them with his poems. I know we as a family are compiling his poems and some of his shorts stories and making a book. But I mean as to what happens to everything afterwards it's still there and you can still follow Follow Eric you're just taking a long sabbatical. But I mean I still go to Conrad's and read his poems and short stories since I'm not at home and can read the originals. You still live on ... I mean Emily Dickenson still lives on well she lives more now than she did in her own era. But its all in how you write ... if it's typical than it won't survive long minus the people who just miss you so much they'll read anything. But yeah.

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