Social media is encroaching on more and more of our daily lives – but only because we allow it to. Whether it be by conscious decision or by default because we choose to pay no attention, the pushers of social media for commercial purposes are continually looking for new ways to ‘convince’ us that buying their services is worth the money.
And so this story by Simon McCarthy: In the 21st Century, data is the world’s most valuable resource – what happens to it after we die? (Port Macquarie News, July 28 2019) reports on how the funeral industry is offering streaming services as an adjunct to the conventional funeral service. An add-on now but will it end up being a replacement, where no one turns up in person, but rather ‘participating’ in a virtual ceremony by watching on a phone, tablet or smart tv? Perhaps even while driving down the freeway or communting on the bus or train.
There are many aspects to this story and we don’t intend to cover them all in this brief post. Simon McCarthy is simply reporting on the changes taking place as technology makes inroads into our daily lives. How it all plays out over the coming centuries is anyones guess. Live streaming is not some new fangled invention, it is simply broadcasting using the internet. Says McCarthy in the case of a NZ company:
The video is streamed live to an invite-only cloud service provided by the New Zealand-based funeral streaming company OneRoom.
“The market found us,” OneRoom chief executive David Lutterman says. “It was such a good idea and such a good market to be in that we ended up just focussing exclusively on that. The only thing we do now is stream and record funeral services.”
The business had been registered in 2008 to service the New Zealand corporate sector, webcasting annual general meetings on demand, but in 2012 it was approached by a private crematorium.
OneRoom hosts more than 1000 password-protected funeral broadcasts each month. New Zealand had become a validation market, Lutterman says. Within a few years, the company had expanded into Australia and the United States. It doubled its output between 2017 and 2018 and is on track to grow at the same rate in 2019.
A word of caution comes from Psychologist Michael Bazaley, who says, the way we think about our lives and mortality has remained the same for centuries.
We grieve in groups, “we’re social beings. There is a lot of research about how we don’t do very well in isolation.
“We live in a time where there’s a lot of influences to get our attention, but I think we are still struggling with the same things: what happens when I die? Where am I going? What am I doing?’
“In this new process of grieving online, there is a chance we could become detached from that group mourning experience.”
Bazaley wonders if live streaming death rites could lead to a detachment from grief.
In summing up, McCarthy notes that:
The first generation of digital natives are approaching middle age, literate in a unique kind of relationship with the non-physical, creating terabytes of digital estates that will broach a new cultural dilemma around death and dying. In the 21st Century, data is the world’s most valuable resource, and the new currency of inheritance.
We are creatures of nature – the earth – with a lineage dating back centuries. It would be wise not to turn our backs on where we came from. Internet speed is one thing, but faster is not necessarily better and placing all our eggs in the baskets of the data providers needs to be done with extreme caution. These are strangers after all. Not our friends or family. Their job is one business transaction after another – selling products in exchange for money. The content is what counts. Who owns and controls the content is up for grabs when we go online.
To read the story in full click on the link: Data and death in the 21st Century