The digital Grim Reaper

On: December 18, 2008
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About Arno de Natris
Finished the Master in New Media in august 2009. See for mor details about me on


Isn’t it remarkable that a profile on a social network site is almost always linked to a person that exists in real life? Most profiles are related to someone, some group or something that is palpable. Of course, some people do have more than one profile, due to the wish of not linking private and work, or maybe due to a past one won’t be remembered to. But it seems that every profile relates on a fleshed body.

Is every profile a representation of flesh? At least one is not. The Grim Reaper is someone, or somebody, who, or that has a profile on a social network site. On Hyves, he’s called Magere Hein (the Dutch name of the personification of ‘death’) and his profile can be found on The Grim Reaper adds friends randomly. His invitation: ‘The Grim Reaper wants to be your friend. Would you like to be in a relation with after-life?’ In other words, if one accepts his invitation, one becomes friends with death. Or, at least, with death’s representation on a social network site.

Digital cemetery
Are you dying after accepting ‘death’ as your friend? Unfortunately, Magere Hein fails online. People who see ‘Grimmy’, should die. That’s the story. Profiles that see the Grim Reaper, should die too. If one accepts the 2.0 Grim Reaper, one should demolish his or her profile. Should… Death is dead, long live death?

On the other hand, what happens with profiles of existing people who actually have died? I couldn’t find one. I don’t mean fan groups or profiles made by others in this sence. All my friends are alive at this moment of writing and profiles don’t have ‘alive/dead’ boxes. Most likely, these profiles will be deleted. I hope my profile won’t. It would be a great digital obituary.

The Grimmy Project just started a week ago. Let’s see what will happen in the next months, years, centuries.

Question to think about: Inviting the Grim Reaper to be your friend, is that suicide? And now for the happiness: Enjoy Christmas and have a great 2009.

3 Responses to “The digital Grim Reaper”
  • December 19, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Social networking for the deceased:

  • January 2, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    A few weeks later, the Hyve starts to devellop. Most of the ‘friends’ first ask who Grim really is. Of course, I tell them it’s the representation of death, now available on hyves. I don’t reveal my real name. Only one person deleted Grimmy as a friend after first accepting, seeing it as a sick joke (can’t blame her).

    Grimmy used for beating the tobacco industry:
    In ‘about’: ‘Nobody is a bigger fan of — or a bigger cheerleader for — the nicotine cartel (formerly known as the tobacco industry) than the Grim Reaper. No other problem on the planet (illicit drugs, alcohol [including drunk driving], AIDS, homicide, suicide, fires, car accidents, etc.) even comes close to the number of victims ‘reaped’ by tobacco. In fact the tobacco toll is greater than that of all of the above-mentioned ‘problems’ combined!!!

    As the Reaper like to brag, “Tobacco kills more people every six hours than were killed in all of the 9/11 attacks! Sort of makes you wonder who the real terrorists are, doesn’t it? P.S. Keep up the great work, Philip Morris! Your ol’ pal, ‘Grim’” ‘

  • January 31, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Not sure where to put this, but the following book and (lengthy) review may be of interest:

    Digitize This Book! The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now
    Gary Hall, University of Minnesota Press

    Since posting this a query prompted the finding that ‘accessibility’ is not in the index. There will be a follow up post about this in due course…

    Kind regards,

    Peter Jones

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