There is a growing interest among certain users of the Internet in whether it might not be the key to immortality. What happens to all those posts, blogs, pics, and tweets once we're gone?
According to Rob Walker, writing in The New York Times Magazine ("Cyberspace When You're Dead," January 8, 2011), new web-based businesses are beginning to emerge to help ensure that our "web detritus" is preserved and available long after we're gone, thus maintaining a kind of permanent record of our existence and a form of immortality.
Web-death businesses promise to store passwords, to make records available to designated parties, and even to keep materials in storage for future generations. Some are even toying with the idea of making it possible for us to send out messages after we've died!
Rob Walker is fascinated by this, in particular, by what it shows us about loyalties that get built up within web networks among people who have never seen one another face-to-face. He thinks, however, that - like the Christian view of heaven - it's just a way of avoiding the issue of death. He seems to imply that real-world types don't need to live on after death; they need to live on while they're living.
But isn't there something here expressive of the image of God? People know that death is an enemy. That we should expect to live on forever, so that others can enjoy us and we, if only thinking about it here and now, can enjoy them enjoying us. The Bible teaches that we are made for eternity. Thus, it's not surprising to learn that people are beginning to explore the powers of the web to in an effort to defeat the finality of the grave.
We will live forever, of course, whether or not the web lends us any assistance. The question, as the Christian should see it, is not whether we or our neighbors will live forever, but in what condition will we continue to exist? Concerning this, the Bible is abundantly clear.
And we should be as well.
Additional related texts: Romans 6.23; Hebrews 2.15; Matthew 7.21-23
A conversation starter: "Have you heard about the new 'life-after-death' possiblities on the Internet?"
T. M. Moore