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The Really Dead Letter Office
November 17, 2003 11:23 AM   Subscribe

"MyLastEMial.com is a unique online service, which allows you to leave messages for those you care about – to be emailed after your death." Oh. My. God.
via - would you believe? - Yahoo's Daily Links
posted by wendell (28 comments total)

 
Or you could just roll your own.
posted by machaus at 11:28 AM on November 17, 2003


"Priase God!"
- actual typo from a hymnal I used two weeks ago.

posted by brownpau at 11:28 AM on November 17, 2003


When I go, I'm just giving everybody tickets to a John Edward taping... (snark)
posted by wendell at 11:38 AM on November 17, 2003


Actually, I hoping Matt will fix the typos on all my posts, posthumously. (Get it? Post-humously? Ngyuk!)
posted by wendell at 11:42 AM on November 17, 2003


As always Lance Arthur did it first, with his Dead Letter Office.
posted by riffola at 11:47 AM on November 17, 2003


Jesus Aitch Christ.

I think I'd leave a couple for each person. The first would be an invenctive, hate-filled diatribe, blaming them for my death, and would be a "ha ha" POX FROM THE AFTERLIFE. I told you to cure cancer, you twerps.
posted by The God Complex at 11:47 AM on November 17, 2003


If I understand this, you are given a certificate for your loved ones so they can access the emails when they get your will, or you can choose to have an email sent if you don't log in for a period of time (their example is "3 months, Six months etc" or something). At the ultra-low price of $10 for 3 years?

Huh?

This has to be a joke.
posted by Quartermass at 12:04 PM on November 17, 2003


Not only is this stupid, it's bloody unoriginal. They completely stole the idea for this from Andy Garcia's company in Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead.
posted by psmealey at 12:07 PM on November 17, 2003


I'm thinking it's a joke, but they fooled Yahoo!
I know... Big deal.
posted by wendell at 12:49 PM on November 17, 2003


I'm thinking it's a joke

i'm far too lazy to comb the archives for it, but it's been here before, perhaps not the same site, but the same joke.

in the original mefi discussion i suggested 'you bastards.com', a service where you could keep a running commentary on all the idiots you work with/for, to be mailed upon your termination.
posted by quonsar at 12:59 PM on November 17, 2003


I remember Wired reporting on this years and years ago. This one may be a joke (I didn't follow the link) but there certainly are companies that deal with your online estate after your death.
posted by tiamat at 1:00 PM on November 17, 2003


How about a service to make posthumous (pre-written), snarky comments on Metafilter threads (keyed to certain terms, of course. George W. Bush, Iraq, Goatse.......) ?
posted by troutfishing at 1:00 PM on November 17, 2003


This has historical precedent. In Victorian times there was a fad for "dead letters". Usually this meant that schoolgirls exchanged letters and made pacts that they were to be opened at a certain time, or sometimes the letters were only tradeed with a friend for the purposes of safekeeping - they were really letters the authors wrote to themselves and meant to open in a few years' time. And yes, sometimes people left their loved ones letters meant to be opened in the event of their death. I can't find a link, but I've found references to it in a number of popular Victorian novels. I suppose in a world where travel was difficult and communication limited to letters and actual meetings, and mortality high, it made more sense than it does now - otherwise you might not be able to say good-bye.

But yes, this incarnation of dead letters, aside from it's comedic value (hi, it's your mother, I'm dead, and I know you never wanted me to email me while you were working but just for once you could make an exception) is stupid. If you wanted to leave a dead letter to a loved one, why not just leave a sealed letter (instead of a certificate) with your executor? It's free and probably the person left behind would prefer that to an ephemeral, no-warning-before-you're-hit-at-work-with-it email anyway.
posted by orange swan at 1:02 PM on November 17, 2003


How about a service to make posthumous (pre-written), snarky comments on Metafilter threads (keyed to certain terms, of course. George W. Bush, Iraq, Goatse.......) ?

For fuck sakes, don't give me away!


BUSH CAN'T DANCE.
posted by The God Complex at 1:07 PM on November 17, 2003


The Victorians were a strange bunch. Many of them had wristwatches with straps fashioned from the hair of deceased loved ones. Death cult, whaaaat?
posted by The God Complex at 1:10 PM on November 17, 2003


How futile would this be if email filters think these emails are spams?
posted by phyrewerx at 1:28 PM on November 17, 2003


Oh, totally. It was very common to wear brooches and other items of jewellery with strands of hair in it. Plus there was a regimen of mourning that was all but compulsory when any of your relatives died. Even if you hated the person. Our attitudes towards death and loss have changed so much. Before, the cult of death. It's a common thing in Victorian novels to have a character who never gets over the loss of a lover or husband - i.e., Miss Haversham in Great Expectations who remained in her wedding dress for the rest of her life after being stood up at the altar (I hope I have these details right). This was Dickens' parody of the sort of thing that happened in Victorian novels, where heroines seemed to drop like flies from broken hearts. In real life there was Queen Victoria who mourned her husband for 40 years. This kind of thing was admired - it meant fidelity, and steadfastness, and Real Love.

Now, we have the cult of Moving On. Sure, grief is allowed but it's seen as a process to be undergone and worked through as efficiently as possible rather than as a fixed, last thing from which one will never recover.

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle - sometimes people do get broken by a loss or a grief, and they never do get over it, but one gets over most things, and can learn to live happily on the whole, though perhaps with a small but permanent ache in one's heart.

I see the denial of grief, the attempt to place another or oneself on a fixed schedule of grief or recovery, and the fixed pose of grief ("I am deep and sensitive and I never get over things") as equally unhealthy things.
posted by orange swan at 1:30 PM on November 17, 2003


Oh, totally. It was very common to wear brooches and other items of jewellery with strands of hair in it. Plus there was a regimen of mourning that was all but compulsory when any of your relatives died. Even if you hated the person. Our attitudes towards death and loss have changed so much. Before, the cult of death. It's a common thing in Victorian novels to have a character who never gets over the loss of a lover or husband - i.e., Miss Haversham in Great Expectations who remained in her wedding dress after she got stood up at the altar (I hope I have these details right). This was Dicken's parody of the sort of thing that happened in Victorian novels, where heroines seemed to drop like flies from broken hearts. In real life there was Queen Victoria who mourned her husband for 40 years. This kind of thing was admired - it meant fidelity, and steadfastness, and Real Love.

Now, we have the cult of Moving On. Sure, grief is allowed but it's seen as a process to be undergone and worked through as efficiently as possible rather than as a fixed, last thing from which one will never recover.

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle - sometimes people do get broken by a loss or a grief, and they never do get over it, but one gets over most things, and can learn to live happily on the whole, though perhaps with a small but permanent ache in one's heart.

I see the denial of grief, the attempt to place another or oneself on a fixed schedule of grief or recovery, and the fixed pose of grief ("I am deep and sensitive and I never get over things") as equally unhealthy things.
posted by orange swan at 1:32 PM on November 17, 2003


Oh shit! Must be more careful about using the "back button" on my browser.
posted by orange swan at 1:33 PM on November 17, 2003


As the first poster linked to the software, this type of thing is called a "Dead Man's Switch". It has been used in locomotives to keep engineers awake and by villians in movies in order to protect their lives.

I've heard of a torture where you have to hold down a button that is hard to hold down OR you blow up. So essentially when you stop paying attention (for whatever reason) you die.

I think this is a great idea for people who involve themselves in lucrative illicit behaviour. If you inform the party of the dead man switch before hand then they are less likely to terminate you (or at least kidnap you and force you turn it off).
posted by abez at 2:06 PM on November 17, 2003


It was very common to wear brooches and other items of jewellery with strands of hair in it.

I own inherited jewelry like that. All of them carefully labeled as to which bits of whom are inside. Creepy...and yet...somehow very cool.

As to the new varient of the dead letter...it seems like an easy way to make some cash from a few gullible people, but I, like many of the people above, would just leave letters with the executor, or in the safe with my will...it's the easiest way for everyone to find everything.
posted by dejah420 at 2:08 PM on November 17, 2003


I used to work in a very unhappy office and the head programmer used to fill me in on his plot to install a dead man's switch in the main database, so that if the crazy boss did terminate him, the whole business would be fucked. He eventually was fired and it turned out he was all talk.
posted by palegirl at 3:16 PM on November 17, 2003


I can't help thinking that any technology that sends out emails after death will, at some point, get buggy and deliver messages even though the writer is still alive. Which could lead to a 21st Century Romeo and Juliet scenario. You know: boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love; boy creates dead-letter for girl to receive after his death. Deal-letter software sends letter to girl; Girl get so upset that her lover is dead, she kills herself; Boy, not dead, finds dead girl and, grief-stricken, kills himself.

Sounds like great Hollywood material! Like how they updated "Little Shop around the Corner" to become "You've Got Mail."
posted by grumblebee at 3:41 PM on November 17, 2003


I've actually used the blogging version of a "dead man's switch": a post-dated entry to my blog that essentially said "If you can read this, I'm not coming back". If the drop-dead date arrives without me changing the date farther into the future, BINGO! Blogging From The Grave. In retrospect, a truly morbid exercise. It's been deleted.
posted by wendell at 3:50 PM on November 17, 2003


Boy, not dead, finds dead girl and, grief-stricken, kills himself.

parents sue everyone up to and including god, lawyers rejoice.
posted by quonsar at 4:41 PM on November 17, 2003


Boy, not dead, finds girl, dead, and, grief-stricken, kills self, resulting, tragically, in lawsuit.
posted by The God Complex at 4:53 PM on November 17, 2003


More on this as the sentence develops.
posted by The God Complex at 4:54 PM on November 17, 2003


Song and dance routines?
posted by emf at 6:59 PM on November 17, 2003


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