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“Don’t speak ill of the dead” is one of those phrases we have all heard and surely used many times. Most of us do not know where it came from, and we have the impression that it has always been here like an eternal, non-questionable truth. But really, why is that so?
Why do we try to recall some positive qualities, noble deeds, or nice gestures that the deceased had made during their lives even though we did not have a very good opinion of them? If they are no longer with us why do we have the need to praise them? Is it because they cannot hurt us anymore, so now we do not care, and have nothing to lose or simply in order to show good manners? And maybe we do it because of our yearning hope to be mentioned in the same way by people once we are gone?
And why do we really care about what people will talk about us when we will not be able to hear them, not to mention the inability to react? It seems, however, that we care very much about it. It is like we care more about what people will think of us when we are gone, but to do something now and here so to give people the real reason to speak well of us.
Why is it so? Well, I have no answer to this question. Or to be more precise, until recently, I did not have an answer, and now it seems to me it flows from by, among other things, the new technology that has come to my aid.
The starting point was the fact that we present ourselves, while we are still alive, like better, smarter and more beautiful than we actually are, to make our self-concept more attractive in society, as we all need this kind of social confirmation. And I understand that. Nowadays, this is seen at every step. Whoever has a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other tools that are at your fingertips, sees it, and, to be honest, uses them extensively. Let me paraphrase a sentence I have recently heard “No life is as good as the Facebook life, no one is so beautiful as on the Instagram, and nobody is so angry as on the Twitter”. So, we use new platforms to do what people have always done in communicating with others – to present themselves better, smarter, more beautiful.
However, this new technology allows us to do it more efficiently and effectively than ever before and to do it in real time. We have tools that allow us to make a direct transfer of one’s life. And that’s not really a real life, but the kind of life we want others to see.
We begin to live our lives based on criteria that define how it looks to others. This life on communication platforms becomes a real life, and our real life becomes virtual.
Technology has enabled us to maximally develop the ability to present ourselves the way we think we should. This is how we sing our own praises. In the light of this, once we cease to exist, we will remain what we wrote about ourselves, the photos we sent, the likes we shared, and the comments we have posted.
Thus we sing our own praises and ensure that, when we are dead, people will speak all the best things about us, for we are already talking about ourselves as if we were not still alive.