The practices online in relation to death and the archiving of a deceased person’s digital identity is mirrored in the practices that date before the invention of the internet and before the conception of the term cyberspace coined by fiction writer William Gibson in 1982 (Badulescu, 2011). In light of this fact, we conclude that it is not reasonable to see the two spaces as separate; cemeteries and cyberspace not only both represent heterotopias but also lead to near identical behaviour in relation to the mourning of the dead. More importantly than that, the point that we have insisted on is that they both serve as archives that have recorded lived experiences in varying ways, but that both wind up containing an immense amount of data the deceased. The tombstone, size of plot, location and items left by visitors are similar to the online presence that an identify possesses. If an identity is being lived out through one or several accounts after the passing away of an individual, then the amount of friends, posts to wall and the creation of a memorial page is the equivalent of all that is found on a tomb. The main difference between the online space and the cemetery is the physical versus digital aspect; meaning that the physical may reveal less at first sight than the digital. In addition to this, digital conservation of identity and data after death has come makes it so that the archives are more widely accessible and can be accessed an infinite amount of times. This is a phenomenon that is not witnessed in a cemetery which has closing hours, regulations and private plots and tombs. An issue that is brought up in relation to the creation and preservation of online identity is the authenticity of the information that the individual chose to reveal: what is the real self, what is more authentic? The marks on the body, the embodied, neurological, biological experience; or the online accounts, the selected photos and tidbits, the mini autobiographies, reposts, etc.? This is near impossible to answer, almost as hard as it is to say what happens after death – all that we can be sure of is that it all definitely relates to the individuals identity, seeing as what they choose to post or not says a lot about them same as our actions and words in the physical world say a lot about us.
Badulescu, D. (n.d). Heterotopia, Liminality, Cyberspace as Marks of Contemporary Spatiality. Retrieved from: http://www.theroundtable.ro/Current/Cultural/Dana.Badulescu_Heterotopia,Liminality,Cyberspaceas_Marks_of_Contemporary_Spatiality.pdf
By Danika and Anna