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Book Intro - Digital Legacy: Take Control of Your Online Afterlife

Dec-10 2020

This article is provided by GoodTrust - your trusted digital legacy advisor. Learn more about GoodTrust here.


They say you die twice—first, when you stop breathing, and then a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.

There are few subjects more difficult to discuss or imagine than death. It’s like we’d rather talk about anything else than the one universal experience we all share.

Yet, as we spend more and more of our time in the digital world working, relaxing, playing, and connecting online, there’s an urgent need to overcome this trepidation and prepare for death from a digital-legacy standpoint.

Just as we arrange life insurances or trusts and wills, we need to plan for the post-digital life experience not only for ourselves but for the loved ones we leave behind—or else we run the risk of losing our digital legacy that includes our memories, our stories, and even our identities.

Worldwide, there have now been more than 1.3 million deaths due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, which brought degrees of loss and heartache into virtually all of our lives. The scale was beyond comprehension, whether you or your family lost loved ones or, like so many of us, watched in horror as the daily news presented its drumbeat of infections, hospitalizations, and death.

As those tragic events unfolded during months of lockdowns and quarantines, our digital worlds became a kind of sanctuary within our deserted islands. We relied on online shopping for everything from toilet paper to oat milk to running shoes, and we burrowed into social media to stay in touch with friends and family and help distract ourselves from the onslaught of negativity. 

We clung to our personal devices like life preservers, because maybe they were. The constant glow of our laptops and computer screens (and TVs) became the new campfire.

It was during this time, in the spring of 2020, that my father passed away. His death made me realize that we spend our lives creating memories, friendships, wealth, and assets that we want to pass on to our family. We want to be remembered. And because most things we want to pass on now are digital, there needs to be a plan on how to transfer our digital legacies. After doing more research, I discovered that it is extremely complicated to hand over digital assets, and very few websites had a process for managing this. So I made the leap and started GoodTrust to help people protect their digital legacy. I was eager to learn more. So I surveyed one thousand people, asking: “Do you know what will happen to your digital stuff when you die?” A whopping 90 percent said that they had no idea, and 84 percent said they needed a solution for this. Their responses were not only the impetus for starting GoodTrust, but for the writing of this book.

I met Daniel Sieberg through a mutual friend and former colleague at Google. We both hailed from the tech space and believed in technology’s power for change and good. Daniel was the author of the great read The Digital Diet: The Four-Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and Regain Balance in Your Life (Crown, 2011) and had written numerous articles on technology. He  loved the idea of this book and agreed to become the quarterback in making it a reality.

This book has several goals: to generate a critical level of awareness about the issues surrounding digital afterlife; to foster discussion about the challenges involved, from our often-uncomfortable relationships with tech companies to our inherent lack of trust; and to empower you to make informed decisions about what’s possible and what’s worthwhile with regard to digital afterlife and take positive steps forward.

The good news is that you have more control over your digital afterlife than you realize, and we hope that you not only learn from this book about where we are and how we got here, but that you’re inspired to take action. There’s nothing particularly enjoyable about a subject like death, yet it comes for us all. And we need to be prepared, whether we like it or not.

As Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter once said: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure,” and it is my hope that this book provides you with the foundation to begin that journey.

—Rikard Steiber, December 2020

To read more, preorder "Digital Legacy: Take Control of Your Online Afterlife" on Amazon TODAY!

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