A Michigan woman died, but her digital presence continued functioning, creating a weird posthumous existence.
Farrenkopf [the deceased person] had a kind of institutional doppelgänger, as do we all: a presence that forms as we post on social media, shop online, send e-mails, and use the Internet for paying bills, banking, and dozens of other financial and technological transactions.
Carmen Maria Machado then generalizes from this particular case:
Some of us have more than one. The institutional doppelgänger is hard to see because it shadows our everyday lives so closely. Every so often, though, the curtain twitches, reminding us of its existence.
The article also makes a nice move to one classic 19th-century doppelganger theory:
Karl Marx believed that the product of human labor was separate from and hostile toward its maker. The same might be said of the product of our commercial activities on the Internet. You might not believe that your institutional doppelgänger works against you, but it does not seem like a stretch to argue that the sum of your activity as a consumer—your social-media posts, credit history, the freakishly accurate profile advertisers have of you—is its own creature, and can move about independently of you.
(link thanks to Alison Furlong; photo by Patrick Denker)