I have been thinking about this topic over the past few days, so I decided to write this blogpost to share some of my thoughts with you, my faithful blog readers.
Irrepressible landlady to the well-known 1920s Berlin historical roleplay sims, Jo Yardley, wrote about it on her blog back in 2017, in a blogpost titled If Someone Vanishes in Second Life: those people in Second Life who just suddenly disappear, leaving all their online acquaintances and friends to wonder what happened to them.
Are they seriously ill? Did they die? Or did they just decide to ghost everybody, abandon their avatar, and set up a new, anonymous one? This sort of thing can and does happen in a virtual world where most users are only known by their avatar name.
I have also reviewed the book titled Living and Dying in a Virtual World: Digital Kinships, Nostalgia, and Mourning in Second Life, by Dr. Margaret Gibson and Clarissa Carden (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), which deals with the subject of how SL residents choose to commemorate those avatars/people who have passed away.
According to Statistics Canada, the average life expectancy for Canadian men is 80 years. I am now 55, which means (if I am lucky) that I can expect another quarter-century of life ahead of me.
It’s time to be thinking ahead, planning for the future. I still need to draw up a will and a power of attorney, for example. I don’t have a lot of material possessions to leave to other people (my biggest purchases have been my computer and my car). But I do need to set something in place with my final wishes clearly spelled out for my next of kin to follow.
And I am still working on which Second Life avatars I will leave to other people in the event of my untimely death, via my will. You can read the entire saga here, here, here, here, and here on my blog to see how this quest got started! I know it might sound really silly to some of you, but I consider them perfectly valid possessions, and it would please me greatly to know they will still be providing entertainment and enjoyment to others after I am gone. (If you’re interested in inheriting one of my avatars via my will, please contact me and we’ll talk. I still have a selection for you to choose from!) In fact, when the time comes, I may have some Sansar avatars to pass on to others as well (and I am assuming that Linden Lab will set up similar procedures for Sansar as they already have for Second Life). My lawyer is going to have a ball drawing up my last will and testament!
The important thing is to make plans for the future, but to be flexible and prepare for any eventuality. For example, if I were to be run over by a bus tomorrow, I currently haven’t left any sort of instructions to let people know my wishes concerning my blog and my show (which I would want to be archived for future historians to pore over). I also have an experience called Ryan’s Garden in Sansar, that I would like to be kept in perpetuity as my personal virtual memorial in the event of my passing. I haven’t given anybody else access rights to my blog to post a message in case something should happen to me. I need to set all these things up. Strawberry Singh (whom I admire greatly) wrote an excellent blogpost on these topics, which I recommend you read. You should be thinking about all these things too.
Well, instead of being run over by a bus, I might contract COVID-19 and die. Right now, the coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control here in Manitoba, especially here in the city of Winnipeg, and anything could happen over the next few months. As someone who is older (almost 57), significantly overweight, and who also has asthma, type II diabetes, and hypertension, I am at high risk of a severe, possibly even fatal, reaction if I were to become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. I take every precaution and follow all the experts’ guidance, but I still worry.
I regret that I have been unable to contact the lawyer whom my financial planner recommended to me, in order to draw up a proper will and a healthcare power of attorney. But we now live in perilous and uncertain times, so I have decided to spend the day today doing two things:
- Identifying the key people (both my real life and my social VR/virtual world community) who should have each other’s contact information if the unthinkable happens (real name, telephone number, email, etc.); and
- Drawing up a list of my personal wishes, for example, what I want to have done with the RyanSchultz.com blog, my Second Life avatars and other virtual possessions such the Ryan’s Garden world in Sansar, and my real-world possessions as well, in the event of my untimely death. I will also need people to do various tasks, for example putting a message out on social media such as Twitter, and on each of the almost 100 social VR/virtual world Discord community servers I belong to, in order to let the people there know that I’m gone.
I think that doing this will give me some ease of mind, knowing that, in the absence of a will, a number of people will still know what I want to happen to my stuff (both virtual and real) if I should die. In one of my blogposts about my cancer scare two years ago, I wrote:
I…had a nice long chat with my psychiatrist today, and she made me realize that what I am doing here is simply trying to assert some control in a situation where I am not in control. This is apparently a very normal, human response to a situation like a health crisis.
And that is exactly what I am doing here: trying to assert some control in a situation where I am not in control. Obviously, I will not be blogging all the details of what I decide here, but after I have done this, I will tell you what I have decided to do about my blog in the case of my death. All the rest will be shared only with those key people I have identified in Step 1 above.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Although I suffer from a chronic form of clinical depression, I am not suicidal. I have every intention of living that extra quarter-century to age 80, and beyond! I have to live to witness and document what happens next in the ever-evolving metaverse! But I do need to get some practical matters settled. I hope you understand. Please don’t worry about me. I am taking good care of myself and coping with the current situation as best I can.
As always, stay healthy, stay sane, and stay strong in these trying times.