Ghosts in the Machines

in which we consider the death of Social Networking? How Seasonal…

The world is Socially Networked these days, or at least a seriously chunky proportion of the interwebular world is. I’ll admit to being present (to a greater, or more likely lesser extent) on Facebook, Friends Reunited, Twitter, LiveJournal and to having at least registered on a good few others.

Beyond those, there are places like WordPress, Stackoverflow (and sundry other StackExchange sites), Blogger, Opera, Google, Yahoo! etc etc ad nauseam. You’re reading this so it’s likely that you’re aware of most, if not all of this stuff.

As well as grumpy, I’m also old. Well, by the dictionary I appear to be in the first blush of middle-age, but when you reach the stage in life when all your relatives from the previous generation have died and your peers are starting to shuffle off this mortal coil then you’re at least beginning to be aware – uncomfortably so – of mortality.

So right now I’m all over the Internet. But in fifty years it’s statistically almost certain that I won’t be actively contributing any more.

People die.

More pertinently to my musings here, people on Facebook die. Of the ten countries with the highest estimated Facebook populations, assuming their age distributions are similar to the general population (obviously not, but stay with me) and that mortality rates as per the 2009 CIA World Factbook can be applied, then we get this:

Country FB Pop (m) Deaths/K FB deaths
USA 145.3 8.38 1,217,614
Indonesia 31.4 6.26 196,564
UK 28.8 10.02 288,576
Turkey 23.8 6.10 145,180
France 20.3 8.56 173,768
Philippines 18.8 5.10 95,880
Mexico 17.8 4.80 85,440
Italy 17.6 10.72 188,672
Canada 17.4 7.74 134,676
India 16.5 6.23 102,795
TOTAL 2,629,165

..or about 2.6 million Facebook users dying each year. Obviously the estimate may be a little low, there are only ten countries represented for one thing. What are you going to do when all your friends are dead?

Add in the all the other sites and we’re looking at a small-to-medium sized country-worth of “ghost” accounts, persisting – and inviting interaction, even.

I’m not offering any solutions – heck, I’m not even suggesting that this is even a Bad Thing – perhaps it’s as close to life after death as we’ll ever get. I just keep extrapolating to some inflection point where half the content on the Internet was written by people who are now dead.

So if I stop posting here, is it because I’m bored, out of things to write about or something more … terminal? And if the latter, how will you know?

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One Response to Ghosts in the Machines

  1. Maria-Louise Arscott says:

    I see you haven’t changed much !

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