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Deprecated Grandparents of America

Eternity Hacks
This cause is personal to me.

My grandpa Terry, the only grandparent in my life when I was growing up, suffered his fatal heart attack six years ago this Thursday.
It sounds wrong to say I miss him, because we still talk almost every week. But it’s different now. Grandpa was a retired electrical engineer and always a physical guy. He was short and solid with big, tough hands. He liked old cars and new challenges. The things Grandpa and I did together usually put grease under my fingernails that didn’t come out for days.
Now, we talk always through a screen. And something’s missing. Don’t get me wrong, he looks good - better than since I was a kid - and I think he’s happy, but selfishly I miss the rapport of standing over the workshop sink with him, scrubbing up to our elbows with Gojo and steel wool. Maybe that camaraderie will come back when I’m in the Loop, too.
But more concerningly, he’s confused a lot of the time. He doesn’t remember a lot of the things we used to do together. Or worse, just pretends to remember them. He’s way too fixated on fear-mongering culture-war stuff. It’s like he has a mild form of virtual dementia. And I blame myself for that.
See, Grandpa shared plenty of posts to the Loop, but not the sort of things that make for a well-rounded afterlife: mostly reactionary political opinions and pictures of stuff around his yard. I could have helped him learn to use a BrainFrieze, could have walked him through how to sync a fuller spectrum of his thoughts and memories to the cloud. I think he would have gotten interested; he always talked about wanting to write down his memoirs. 
But I was a young adult when the social eternity first became a thing, and I was too shortsighted, too wrapped up in my own problems and my own plans to consider what it meant for anyone except me. 
And then, one day, just when I started realizing how fast the time was going, Grandpa made it five steps up his basement stairs and collapsed.
Two weeks later, when we had our first post-funeral video call, I saw that the version of him that the Loop reconstituted was a shadow of the man who used to sit up late talking big ideas with me. 
That’s the day I got into eternity hacking. I don’t want anyone’s afterlife to be less than they deserve. I don’t want to see anyone else that I love die like Grandpa Terry, suspended forever on the stairway between sunlight and the grave. 
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?
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Eternity Hacks
Eternity Hacks @hackingeternity

A weekly newsletter about how to think smarter, look better, and live happier in the social eternity, written by full-time eternity hacker Shawn Osorio. Read from the bottom to get up to date, then subscribe for future installments.

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