From getting married to running for office, it seems you can do just about everything online these days. Childbirth, memorial services and almost everything in between – they’re all turning up on the web. We’ve talked before about how important the Internet has become in doing everyday tasks like paying our bills and keeping in touch with our friends and families. Now we’re also marking many of the big milestones of our lives on the ‘Net, too.
Last weekend, our local paper did a feature on the phenomenon of online weddings (link).
It seems that for a price (ranging from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars) you can broadcast a live feed of your wedding ceremony over the Internet, so that those who aren’t able to make it in person can be there not just in spirit, but in virtual reality, too. The video can also be saved and posted for a period of time following the wedding, so that your guests not only don’t have to travel, they don’t even have to be free at the time of the wedding.
I can see how this is useful when you have elderly relatives who aren’t able to physically get to your wedding location, and it could certainly save folks a lot of money (virtual guests don’t even need to worry about getting dressed up to attend), but I don’t know – to me, it’s just not the same as being there. I hope it remains a supplement to, and not a replacement for, the “real thing.”
If saying your vows in front of a virtual audience “out there” somewhere isn’t exhibitionist enough for you, we’ve also heard of a few mothers “going live” with the video of their babies’ births. I guess this is the natural extension of recording the birth (something I did with my own homebirth); I just hope these folks are putting password protection on those web files. I’d hate to know that just any stranger could stumble across such video.
Politicians are using the Internet to their advantage more and more, finding it a relatively cheap and effective way to reach voters. Back in the 80s when I ran for city council, I had to rely on ads in the local newspaper, yard signs, flyers and good old-fashioned door-to-door handshaking. Today you could theoretically get elected to public office without ever leaving the comfort of your home.
Even at the end of life, the ‘Net is still there. Memorial web sites are becoming a popular service for funeral homes. For example, Lifestorynet (www.lifestorynet.com) is a site on which funeral homes post a biographical web presentation with photos and text of the deceased. Online-Funeral (www.online- funeral.com) provides “live” coverage of the visitation room at the funeral home and saved video footage of the funeral service, as well as a family website where you can send messages to the family, and sells CDs of the funeral. Many major newspapers now include online guest books in their obituaries section where friends and families can share memories and express condolences. An example is here.
What do you think about this “cradle to grave” Internet archiving of our lives? Is it a great new way to share important life events with more people and extend our families, or does it constitute an invasion of the little privacy that we have left? Would you want your wedding, birth of your baby, or funeral services to be available online?
Deb Shinder, MVP