Virtual Life after Death

Hi from Munich,

A recent spam email from a dead colleague has caused me to reflect again on the awkwardness of our Internet existence (email addresses, Facebook and Linkedin profiles etc.) after our flesh and blood, biological one has ended. It is spooky when Linkedin suggests that I might want to connect to someone I know is dead. But the continuing messages to deceased friends on their Facebook page are a touching and sometimes disturbing feature of our evolving modern lives.

A long time but still young (early 40s) friend died well over a year ago at the end of what he had reported as so far very successful chemotherapy. I did not know his family and we did not share other friends who might have notified me of his death. So when he did not return my email and phone messages I eventually checked his Facebook page. As I read through the recent posts from friends it became clear that they were saying good-bye.

I checked it again today over a year later. He still lives there. Friends continue to post messages, one on Thanksgiving and several on his Birthday and one frequent poster for no particular reason at all. For most of them it is clearly a dialog with the dead and quite touching. But I am not sure about the frequent poster. Does he know that J is dead and just keeps talking to him, or does he not know and must wonder why J never replies. I could tell him, though I do not know him, but perhaps (if he doesn’t already know) he doesn’t want to know. I am not yet fully adjusted to the Internet world.

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About wcoats

Dr. Warren L. Coats specializes in advising central banks on monetary policy, and in the development of their capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy. He is retired from the International Monetary Fund, where, as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department, he led missions to over twenty countries. Before then, he served as Visiting Economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and to the World Bank, and was Assistant Prof of Economics at the Univ. of Virginia from 1970-75. Most recently he was Senior Monetary Policy Advisor to the Central Bank of Iraq; an IMF consultant to the central banks of Afghanistan, Kenya and Zimbabwe; and a Deloitte/USAID advisor to the Government of South Sudan. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Cayman Financial Review and until the end of 2013 was a member of the IMF program team for Afghanistan. His most recent book is entitled "One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina."
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