Friday, January 12, 2007

Email from Beyond the Grave

A Houston company is offering a service that sends email to people after you die. The idea is simple; if you die, messages that you've written in advance are sent out on your behalf. 

Yes, it's a little creepy. But after I read about it, I saw the benefits.

First, of course, is just the chance for your last communication to someone important to you to be what you choose. I have a small fatalistic, morbid streak. I make a point of calling my partner or sending a text message before I get on a plane. As we board I think, "I hope everything goes right." And I can't stand to leave for a trip unless the last conversation was something pleasant. I always remember my mother saying, "Don't go to bed mad." You might not have a chance to make things right.

And so I found myself thinking that if something awful happened, it would be nice to think that people would get a message reminding them of how important they were to me.

I hadn't even thought about the practical aspects: here's where the money is. The important papers are in the lockbox next to the file cabinet.

Yes, much of that stuff can be put in a will, but it might be easier to put it in an email.

The cost is $20 a year - not much.

What do you think? Morbidly playing on people's fears?  A nice way to send a final message? I see the point of it, but it still makes me strangely uncomfortable.


Anonymous said...

John - Given the ephemeral, casual, and often sloppy nature of e-mails, I find this approach to a message from the beyond a bit to breezy (and weird). Why not write your message down - pen to paper - and have the letter opened after your death. That way someone has something tangible and personal to hang on to.

On the humorous side, your post reminds me of an e-mail message I received the day my mother died. She had been planning a trip to Chicago and I was making her plane reservations for her. When I checked my e-mails the night she died, I had one from Orbitz with the Subject "Elizabeth Rogers' Journey." I couldn't help but think, 'you ain't kidding.'

Katrog said...

There's always the tried and true way to send a message from the beyond--in your will--the last nose thumb to the ungrrateful children, unacceptable daughter or son in law, or predatory charity. nee-ner, nee-ner, nee-ner.


Mary Schmidt said...

Well, I can see a place for this in the "extremely single" market, particularly for business contacts. I can't be the only "ES" - there must be millions of us.

They could offer an add-on where you write letters in advance and they then make sure they get to the people.

Sure, it's macabre, morbid and - well - rather "icky" but I think the idea has merit.

Maureen Rogers said...

I think Mary makes a good point about business messages. But I'd rather see them come from "Deathswitch" (under a different name - who wants to get a note from "deathswitch"?) than from the late Joe Blow. E.g., you could get an e-mail that said "your colleague Joe Blow requested that, upon his death, you be sent the following information...." In any case, I found this so intriguing, I wrote some more about it over on Pink Slip.

Anonymous said...

There are rules that govern scientific research, and one is on something called conflict of interest. I think (but I'm not 100% positive) that there is a serious confict of interest when a scientist publishes an article on something in a scholarly journal (Dr. Eagleman published an article on deathswitchs in the prestigious journal Nature in 2006), the content of which, amounts to an advertisement for his company. Anyone who finds the Nature article interesting will immediately google "deathswitch" and will find a company named deathswitch, run by the author of the interesting article they read.