My parents have always been upfront with me about their wishes for when they die. I can remember talking about cremation, living wills, and Do Not Resuscitate orders way back in middle school. But when a PR pitch came across my inbox, announcing that in a recent survey only 16 percent of baby boomers had considered their "digital legacy" and only 3 percent had taken steps to prepare their family, I realized: I had no idea what my own boomer parents wanted done with their online footprints. Curious, I called them up and had a remarkably cheerful chat about what to do with their social-media remnants.
First we established what accounts each had: My mother is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (“though I never use it”), and LinkedIn, while my dad is on Facebook, Instagram ("for sharing pictures from our trip to Mexico"), and LinkedIn. Both were quick to report that they found LinkedIn useless—evidence, I think, that they're savvy social-media users.
Next up, what did they want done with their profiles? We focused on Facebook, the one service they both used consistently. It’s a question that had already come up for my mother. A family friend, "late in his life, had someone set up an account for him and it was active for a couple of years. When he died, nobody took it down, so I'll still get notified of his birthday. That account is still just floating out there.” For her, it’s “disturbing” to get that reminder once a year. Not an ideal situation.