“I have left with the other papers my friend will need, a final blog to be posted. Yes, it begins with, ‘If you’re reading this, I am dead…’”
Milt announced in his first blog post last year that he was battling terminal cancer so those of us who read Milt’s Muse and consider him a friend are concerned, with no way of finding out what has happened. With that in mind, this idea of a final blog post bears repeating.
Blogging is still a new phenomenon little understood by those who do not participate either as bloggers themselves or regular readers. Blogging is here to stay, but there is not yet a consensus - moreso outside the blogosphere than within - about where the online friendships we establish fit in with our other relationships.
It is generally accepted that our social lives and contacts are arranged in concentric circles which, working out from the middle, form a hierarchy similar to this:
- Immediate family
- Closest friends
- Extended family
- Other frequent social contacts
- Work colleagues
Your list could differ in the middle, but we can probably agree that numbers 1 and 7 are properly placed.
So where in the list would blog friends reside?
For me, it varies. Certainly, one or two belong in category 2 and many others can be located in categories 4 and 7. And in the blogosphere, number 6 hardly matters; we are all neighbors in the ether of cyberspace.
So our blog friends, wherever they land in our personal social hierarchies, are people who would want to know when we die. Without that notice, they are left with a mystery, bereft of the opportunity – and human need - to mourn and to celebrate a life that was part of their own.
We leave last wills and testaments to dispose of our belongings. Some people leave instructions for their funerals and memorial services, choosing music to be played and food to be served. (Jill Fallon at Legacy Matters writes about the practices of death in all their ordinary, strange and even funny particulars.) And so, we should leave a final blog entry too – with clear instructions, needed passwords and other information on how to post it for those who may not be familiar with blogging software.
Readers who comment frequently but do not blog themselves might consider a final blog post with a list of URLs on where to post it as a comment.
I’ve rewritten my final blog post once and it’s about due for another update; things change over time. And I’ve also directed that enough money be used from my estate to pay my blog host and domain registrar for a year following my demise.
Life expectancy these days is somewhere in the late 70s which only means that a whole lot of people die younger than that as well as older. There are no guarantees. We can count only on today.
Although it is a peculiar thought to attach social obligations to one's own death, a final blog post is the polite thing to do. If nothing else, it’s a chance to have the last word, and I’m not letting an opportunity like that get past me.