The Internet has reinvented the paradigm of life and death: social media enables a discourse with loved ones long after their deaths, while gaming sites provide opportunities for multiple lives and life forms. In this thought-provoking work, author Kevin O’Neill examines America’s concept of afterlife—as imagined in cyberspace—and considers how technologies designed to emulate immortality present serious challenges to our ideas about human identity and to our religious beliefs about heaven and hell.
The first part of the work—covering the period between 1840 and 1860—addresses post-mortem photography, cemetery design, and spiritualism. The second section discusses Internet afterlife, including online memorials and cemeteries; social media legacy pages; and sites that curate passwords, bequests, and final requests. The work concludes with chapters on the transhumanist movement, the philosophical and religious debates about Internet immortality, and the study of technologies attempting to extend life long after the human form ceases.
- Reveals the period in American history that established cultural views about the afterlife
- Discusses how technology aids in achieving and designing perspectives on heaven and immortality
- Reviews technologies surrounding digital mortality, including Dmitry Itskov's 2045 Initiative and Martine Rothblatt's Terasem Foundation
- Illustrates how the Internet helps those who have lost loved ones to grieve and cope in new ways
- Links perceptions about death and the hereafter to typical American attitudes, including optimism, confidence, self-reliance, and innovation
- Examines the use of virtual memorials, online obituaries, Facebook pages of deceased users, and avatars