Identity and Expression, Virtual World Platforms

Virtual Cemetaries: “You’ve Been Left Behind”

In a sign of how far virtual world environments have come, the growth curve has shifted beyond LIVING a virtual life, to being, um, dead in one. That’s right: inspired entrepreneurs will let you maintain a presence in a virtual world beyond the pesky confines of living, breathing meat space.

A virtual cemetery.

This is perhaps the first step towards the Singularity, or Philip’s vision of uploading his brain to the Grid so he can live forever. In this case, however, the intention isn’t for you to live but rather to be peacefully but perpetually dead.

Tampa Bay Online reports that “a wave of new companies are starting to offer services such as virtual cemeteries where guests can visit and e-mail alerts set up by funeral homes to remind relatives near and wide about the anniversary of your death.”

E-mail alerts? Please, how 2001 is that? I want to be tweeting my friends from the other side thanks, sending pithy reminders to buy some virtual flowers for my virtual graveside.

“Need SEO optimization for my grave. My death’s anniversary coming. Plz retweet. TinyUrl.”

Goods are a big part of the virtual graveyard business, and perhaps a useful idea for a new section on XLStreet. At the very least, Straylight should head over….with prices for trees ranging up to $35 a pop, it’s not a bad business of which to grab a slice.

“Once there, visitors can purchase items to leave behind, such as flowers, religious icons and other trinkets symbolically important to the deceased, such as golf clubs, a horse saddle, a piano or trees that can grow over time. Prices for each range from $5 to $35 apiece.”

But what’s even better are the systems that give your dead body news of the, um, death of others:

“The Harwich, Mass.-based Web site promises to save your advice for relatives and friends whom you fear might not make it to Heaven should the end of the world occur.

The computer system is designed to detect the Rapture: A group of several faithful families, geographically dispersed, log into the system daily, and their failure to do so trips the switch. In that event, the system presumes those families were taken up in the Rapture, and sends out your last-chance advice to a list of 60 or more addressees.

Several hundred customers have signed up to pay $14.95 per year, since the site launched a year ago.”

Virtual graveyards are, um, fine. But having gone through an experience recently, I can tell you I’d rather pay someone to have my online identity REMOVED than to have a place where it can be visited in perpetuity.

Ever try removing the Facebook profile of someone who has passed away? Now THAT, my friends, is ghoulish.


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