My uncle’s birthday came and went a few weeks ago. Just before it, I received (of course) a Facebook reminder. Obviously, however, wishing him well was a bit difficult…. given he’s now dead.
Unlike so many others, I didn’t write anything on his wall. He’s not on his PC in his home office (as he never got to the mobile device stage), and he’s never going to read it. Seeing so much of what was scribbled on it, I remembered this I’d written in 2014:
Another uncomfortable aspect of death nowadays is “confidentiality.” Out of the blue about a week after my uncle’s death, one of my cousins sent me a Messenger note from his late father’s account. (That cousin didn’t know my email, and isn’t on Facebook himself.) When I saw it sitting there to be opened, with my dead uncle’s photo next to it, it momentarily creeped me out.
He had my late uncle’s password.
My uncle and I had exchanged quite a few messages over the years. Some were recently about my writing; and I write under a pseudonym because I’ve written about lots of still living people whom I’ve fictionalized, and they might recognize “themselves” if they saw the characters. (Seeing “himself,” my uncle – author he was – didn’t care about his own fictionalization.) Before that, messages between us were often about personal issues; and while they weren’t “horrors,” I nevertheless wasn’t too keen on anyone else seeing them.
I don’t know if my cousin scrolled up into the Messenger “archive” (he has not said), but that experience served to remind me how anything we write down can be read by someone at some time. True, old correspondence can be found in an attic by accident and read too. But unlike paper letters which can be incinerated in a fireplace, always remember this as you type away via the net: email and social media “never die” and are NEVER really “confidential.”