Death approaches, for one and all. But what about our important data stored within free services that Google may or may not shut down before our death? For this, there’s Google Afterlife. It’s not called Google Afterlife, but that’s just what some tech writers have named it, because “Inactive Account Manager” sounds like something Verizon would do to you for $6.99 a month, in or out of the grave.
Here’s how it works: You can go to some Google page and click some things. No more worries about death! After your demise, if Google hasn’t killed off the service, the particular way you misunderstood “Inactive Account Manager” will function as your “Digital Will.” Anyway, you’ll be dead.
Before that happens, you’ll surely want to spend some of your remaining minutes trying to find the “Inactive Account Manager.” Right click the pull down and select “Account,” then look around for a while until you’re not sure if you’re even in the right place, and then just click this link here and there you are! Did you start a YouTube account in 2007 for some reason? That’s probably going to be an issue. Does Chrome keep trying to log you into your mother-in-law’s email because she used your desktop computer once in 2009 and you accidentally clicked “Allow” when those dozens of Keychain prompts kept popping up when you installed Chrome last year? We might need to contact tech support for that one. Just kidding! Google has no tech support.
Anyway, should all of this work out, you can designate another person to get an email someday, assuming this person is still checking email and hasn’t died or finally signed up for a @disneyearth.com address because Google discontinued the Gmail product in 2018. Who will you choose? I know that when I think about death and think about who I want to go through my crap, the usual person I come up with is “nobody.” But go ahead and pick someone! If you have kids, pick the one you like least. They’ll certainly enjoy going through the 30 years of Calendar reminder emails. “Reminder: Re-order dog’s thyroid Rx @ Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:30am — 9:30am” will surely bring a lot of insight and nostalgia to your survivors.
The most important part of the Google Inactive Account Manager is the winsome little graphic on the otherwise stark and graphically barren page. It is a representation of modern life, ending with a trash can. Your memories, and the memory of your existence, will ultimately be deleted just like your Twitter account and your Flickr photos and your one YouTube comment on that “Chocolate Rain” video. Nothing will remain but your tax and debt obligations, and the people or robots assigned to settle those accounts won’t be depending on your voluntary fiddling around with some account management page on the Internet.
(Also, Google won’t let you plan your death until you give Google your cell phone number. Good try, Google! The old-fashioned solution is to just print a text file of your logins and passwords and put that in the manila folder with your printed will, and also put a fast-acting neurotoxin on all the pages.)