Searching for the Meaning of Death? There's an App for That

The Buzz Bin

While I was on my phone avoiding work on a recent Monday afternoon, my Facebook feed presented me with an article that I couldn't resist. It was about Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball and his crooked, screwball shooting form. It was a completely meaningless little thing I'd forget in two days, like most articles on the internet. Yet I had to read it.

But just as I clicked, my phone flashed an alert. It was something else that I had no power to resist. It said, "You're going to die."

It came from the app WeCroak, which reminds you five times a day of your inevitable death. I downloaded it two weeks ago as a test, operating under the theory that if I'm constantly reminded of my mortality, I may cherish life a little more.

It didn't really work out like that.

The reminders show up like any news alert, alongside other reminders of inevitable catastrophe. The president is on Twitter again, North Korea launched a missile, death will come for me and everyone I know, yada yada yada.

Sometimes — like death, I suppose — it comes when I least expect, in the most mundane moments. It reminded me after I watched a Snapchat video of someone drinking craft beer. It reminded me while I scoured the internet trying to find out why certain fanboys hate the new Star Wars. It reminded me when I took my phone out during a second of silent awkwardness at the office Christmas party.

"Don't forget, you're going to die."

At times, it feels like a joke. Last Saturday, my wife and I strolled through Ace Hardware to buy Christmas lights. At the register, she pointed to some fake reindeer antlers. They looked ridiculous. She suggested I wear them for the pub crawl that night.

"Kill me," I quipped.

As I pulled my phone out at the register, it's there: "Don't forget, you're going to die."

Other times, it's cruel. It reminded when I sat in a church for a memorial honoring my friend's father, who died last month. It reminded me while I read about the train crash outside of Seattle, hoping my sister who lives around there was OK.

It hasn't made me cherish life any more than I did. That Lonzo Ball article? I still read it, and I've read more since.

It's the timing that intrigues me. Each reminder somehow informs all of these moments. I attach my own meaning to it. Why does it tell me then? Why not another time?

I know it can come whenever, for no reason, no matter what I'm doing. I know it's completely random. But sometimes, when I stop and think about it, it doesn't seem random at all. ♦

Norman Rockwell's America @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 12
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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione, born and raised in Spokane, is an Inlander staff writer covering education and social services in the Inland Northwest.