This year’s fundraiser
I’m telling you this story because it’s time once more for this newsletter’s annual charity drive. We try to help some sort of vulnerable population every year, though you’d be shocked how tough it is to find a charity that someone won’t get mad about.
This time we’re going to see how much we can raise for Deprecated Grandparents of America. Now through April 15, I’m selling a special edition Eternity Hacks sweatshirt for $39; all proceeds will go directly to helping at-risk elderly people avoid losing their shot at immortality.
Grandpa Terry may be a bit patchy in the memory department, but he’s not deprecated. I make sure of that; I call him every week. But thousands of other folks who’ve passed on into the Loop – mostly elderly ones – aren’t so lucky. They have no family, no friends left in the meatworld. Nobody remembers to send a message or make a video call. Their feeds stagnate. They drift away from their jobs, if they had jobs to begin with. Sometimes they spiral into weird self-contained conspiracy theories. As time passes, they become less human and more bot.
Worst of all, these unloved souls take up expensive server space in the Loop and they’re not really generating the engagement to justify it. (Remember, the Loop is like any other free social network: the users are the product, dead and alive. It sounds harsh, but it’s the only way most of us could ever afford eternity.)
Anyway, once you dip below some predetermined level of engagement in the Loop for a year or two, your account gets slapped with a “deprecated” notice. If nobody interacts with you for another few months, you get archived. You lose access to the public-facing features of your account like video calls and direct messages, and your Ghost Engine may be paused indefinitely. Nobody is sure what it feels like to be archived - who would you ask? - but it’s probably something like going into a medically-induced coma. Archival means the end of your sentient afterlife.
That’s where nonprofits like Deprecated Grandparents of America come in. DGA organizes a large volunteer network to cold-call at-risk Loopers and juice their engagement stats. It’s a worthy cause; I’ve volunteered with them myself in the past, and I hope you’ll consider doing the same, whether or not you chip into the fundraiser. You can do it right from your smartphone or BrainFrieze, and it makes you feel great. Seeing the “Deprecated” banner disappear from someone’s profile is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like a medieval faith healer.
Now, to get out in front of the “THIS IS A BAD CHARITY, HOW DARE YOU” people, yes, I’m well aware of the concerns that saving Loopers from archival may somehow be unintentionally inhumane. After all, if you’ve withdrawn from all outside connections, perhaps you are tired of eternity. Perhaps deprecation and archival no longer sound like such a dreadful thing. Perhaps Deprecated Grandparents of America, by artificially boosting engagement where it’s not wanted, is denying some people a dignified digital death?
It turns out that reputable outfits like DGA actually train their volunteers to ask about this at the beginning of each call. They maintain sort of a virtual Do Not Resuscitate list that anybody can opt into. Want to stay deprecated? Just say so.
But believe it or not, nobody ever asks to stay deprecated. Literally nobody. I’ve done hundreds of these calls. I’ve never heard anyone say they want to be archived. They’re always grateful for the call, their eyes light up, they want to talk talk talk about who knows what. Honestly, the hard part is hanging up.
Sometimes I think this is sort of odd. I mean, I can certainly envision myself getting tired of eternity at some point. And I’m as big an afterlife nerd as you’ll find.
But who knows what really goes on in the Loop?