Earlier this week, Tampa TV station WTSP ran a story about a Virginia woman who began receiving emails from her mother — two years after her mother lost a protracted battle with scleroderma. The departed lady's Yahoo account had been hacked, and her poor family has been tormented by spam originating from it ever since.
It's happened before, usually via Facebook notifications reminding a user that he or she hasn't been in touch with a certain deceased "friend" in a while. And various tech blogs and sites have touched on topics related to the online properties and profiles of the dearly departed.
Now I am completely sympathetic toward that Virginia family. I wouldn't exactly relish getting dong-enhancement ads and scammy mortgage offers from my dead mom's email account, either. That's the work of ghouls.
But this terrible tale has given me an idea how I can perpetuate my legacy, and spend the afterlife in much the same way some have claimed I squander my tenure on this plane of existence: wasting the time of others with occasionally clever but more often pointless and irritating outbursts.
I will become a digital ghost.
Starting tomorrow, I will begin uploading a host of useful information about my friends and loved ones to an encrypted section of my hard drive accessible via the Internet. Birthdays, personal pet peeves, embarrassing anecdotes — so many embarrassing personal anecdotes! — and other little things I've learned about all kinds of folks over the years. In the event of my untimely demise, a trusted associate will automatically be forwarded the password to this treasure trove of potential hijinks.
What's more, I will be furnishing said trusted associate with a cloned smartphone chock full of everything that lives in my own phone, from contacts and archived emails to my personal calendars and photos, along with an app to access my PayPal account, from which he or she can keep my wireless service up and running.
If I kick off early, the fun can begin.
Think of the possibilities. My friend won't have to do everything manually; we'll set up a program to send texts and emails out at random intervals, reminding those in my inner circle that I'll always be there to let 'em know that it's time for a drink, or that the person sitting across from them may be one of the 62 percent of Americans who have fantasized about killing someone, or that, hey, a moment on the lips ... well, you know how it goes.
The trusted associate will only be in charge of the really specialized "visitations," like when my wife finally decides she's ready to start dating again — cue the wedding pics and maudlin messages about how lonely it is in the spirit world, always delivered at the most inopportune of moments. Or when a buddy drinking down at the Emerald is sent a "reminder" from the ether that I once managed to surreptitiously urinate in each one of the bar's pint glasses. (It never happened, but so what?) Another friend is out looking at cute stuffed animals for a beloved niece or nephew, when she gets a warning from a late, lamented companion: "Stop looking at that one. That one has a knife."
And that's just my loved ones. I've got enemies, too. How satisfying is it knowing I'm going to be tormenting those fuckers with fervor once I'm on the other side of the veil? Even the protagonist in Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" never dealt with having his hard drive hacked and filled with kiddie porn ... from beyond the grave! Hope you enjoy cops and multiple blind dates from SingleChristiansWithIssues.com dropping by while you're smoking a bowl on the john, people I hate!
I am truly sorry that a few bereaved souls are being reminded of their lost family members because of some thoughtless spam-jockey or ill-considered social networking policy. But I'm also really, really looking forward to living forever as a cloud-based version of the tactless, button-pushy, secret-broadcasting cretin I've grown so ambivalent about becoming during my time as a meatsack.
I mean, what are people gonna do, kill me?
Sicut ego sum in vita, ita ero in mortem: spina in mente.
Scott Harrell's Life As Blow It won First Place in the Individual Blogger category in the nationwide 2011 AltWeekly Awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Read more at lifeasweblowit.com, follow him at twitter.com/lifeasweblowit, or look for him on dailyloafblog.com.