I woke up in the middle of the night, took a spin round my phone and noticed that someone I followed on twitter had died.
I had never met this guy but at one time he had been a fairly frequent tweeter and you got his whole life story. He was out of work with a broken marriage. It looked as if he had been prone to aggression and had an alcohol problem. Then he kicked the habit and seemed to be pulling himself together.
At some point he disappeared off my timeline. I didn’t really notice. I follow 1,772 people at the time of writing. A lot of them come and go and many of them hardly tweet at all. Also it doesn’t take much of a change in your personal habits to not be looking when they are tweeting. I don’t try to read all the tweets in my timeline.
So last night when I saw someone mention that he had died it came as a surprise. I took a look at his timeline and he seemed to have gone quiet on social media platforms from around the middle of last summer and he died in the autumn. There was a reference somewhere to intensive care.
I have no idea what the story is. I’m not really interested and it is really none of our businesses. What is interesting is the fact that his life was in some small measure played out online. I have over the past few years been researching my family tree (hence the mention of me buying the History of the Welsh Baptists in a previous post). I’m at a point where there isn’t much to go on. It’s all hard slog in records offices in West Wales.
However any descendant of my twitter friend, indeed your descendants and mine, are likely to have a wealth of information about our day to day lives like never before. In some respects we are planting trees that will only be enjoyed by people that come after us. Much of what I post is private and shared only with the family, which could be an issue downstream. The family is a specific named set of individuals so my details could be closed to 4G grandchildren (for example). This might require some thought re sharing rules but the principle is there and in any case my Twitter timeline is open for anyone to read.
We are also here relying on the continued existence of today’s social media platforms and their data bases far into the future which is by no means a racing certainty.
It doesn’t really matter anyway. I’ve waxed on long enough.
RIP my twitter friend.
Take care now…