By Greg Schwem
Upon my death, please continue to ‘like’ me
My immediate family huddled on a couch in the funeral home’s parlor room. My wife and I held hands while my daughters stifled urges to check their cell phones. A box of tissues sat on the coffee table. None were needed. Not yet.
A kind looking man emerged from a small office. “Greetings, Mr. and Mrs. Schwem. Girls. I’m Herb Blansky, social media grief coordinator for Blansky & Sons. We specialize in assisting families with the social media accounts of a family member who has passed on. You specifically had questions about Facebook?”
I reached for a tissue. The mere thought of who would handle my eight-year collection of backyard barbecue photos, Kim Kardashian memes and ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE videos of dogs wearing sweaters after jumping into laundry baskets produced a lump in my throat. My wife gripped my hand tighter.
“As you know, Facebook recently added a legacy feature, authorizing someone to take over the account once its owner has passed.” Shifting his eyes between my wife and daughters he added, “Someone you trust. At Blansky & Sons, we can assist you with this process.”
“Like, don’t you just click one button at the bottom of your page?” my eldest asked. “Why are we here?”
“Because I haven’t decided who my legacy contact should be,” I said. “Mr. Blansky, do you have a suggestion.”
“Well, it should be somebody familiar with the nuances of posting, responding, wall updates, friend acceptance, group messaging, commenting, ‘liking,’ and the Facebook mobile app.”
“That counts me out,” my wife said.
“She never got into Facebook,” I informed Blansky.
“Girls, how about you?” Blansky asked, looking at my daughters. “Keep in mind it’s a big responsibility.”
“We’re no longer on Facebook,” my youngest said. “We use Instagram.”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t be caught dead using Facebook,” her sister replied. “Wait, that didn’t come out right. Sorry, Dad.”
“What do we do?” I asked Blansky.
“This is an unusual situation,” he replied. “Have you considered a Facebook power of attorney?”
“I’m not mentally incapacitated,” I said defensively. “I just want my Facebook account to live on when I’m gone. I enjoy steak every Sunday and I ALWAYS post a photo before I consume it. Is it wrong to have somebody continue posting photos of my favorite meals? In my memory?”
“Yes,” my daughters said in unison.
“Not at all,” Blansky said.
“And what if I pass before the next presidential election,” I said, reaching for another tissue, “who is going to post disparaging comments about GOP candidates?”
“All valid questions,” he said. “Obviously, Mr. Schwem, your Facebook account is very important to you. Have you considered having a ‘Celebration of Life’ for it?”
Sliding a brochure across the table, he said, “This is where Blansky & Sons can help.” “You invite people to our funeral home, and they spend time reading all your Facebook posts and looking at all the photos and videos you’ve uploaded. They can comment and ‘like’ until they feel a sense of closure.”
“What’s that going to cost?” my wife said.
“Right now we’re having a prepay special of $5,475, including four hours of free Wi-Fi and up to a dozen iPads placed around the premises.”
“At the ceremony’s completion, an iPad of your choosing will be lovingly wrapped and handed to whomever you choose as your legacy contact. And we do sell iPads. Mr. Schwem, a man of your stature looks like you’d be most comfortable with our top of the line ‘Steve Jobs original.’ Note the cherry trim and the 128GB memory.”
“I think we have some decisions to make,” I said.
“I understand. Just remember, these prices won’t last forever,” Blansky said.
We rose to leave as Blansky produced a business card from his pocket.
“Call me any time,” he said. “And remember, at Blansky & Sons we’re here for your posthumous Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and blogging needs as well.”
‘Really?” I said. “I think we’re going to need a few more appointments.”
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of “Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad,” available at http://bit.ly/gregschwem. Visit Greg on the web at www.gregschwem.com.)