The Digital AfterDeath Digest — Week of August 29th, 2016
The Times Are A-Changin’
The old ways of dying are dying. Are you paying attention?
Digital has changed the relationship with our deceased loved ones forever. DADD is a roundup of important reads as digital and social natives — and the technologies they live by — transform the way we die.
A new study out of the Univ. of Washington shows just how much dying has changed due to platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
“Norms are shifting,” says Nina Cesare, a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Washington and co-author of the paper. “Maybe we’re seeing the pendulum swing back to the opening up of the private sphere [when it comes to mourning].”
For the past 100 years, dying and dealing with death have been private affairs; for the next 100, remembering, celebrating and connecting will be woven into our daily lives. Have you begun to think about how you’ll prepare for this future?
We now know that a body can outlive the brain and the brain’s electronic pulses signal life. Combined, we seem to be nearing a true revelation in death: cheating it through cryogenics or other means.
The march of science is likely leading us to a world where death may become a fork in the road — a choice — versus an inevitable reality.
Rituals around the deceased range from paid-for wailing mourners to placing bodies on top of Towers of Silence for scavenging birds.
In the immortal words of Steve Jobs, “Death is the Destination We All Share” and while this is true, the final part of that journey around the celebration is especially important and ubiquitous to just about every culture around the globe.
The truth is these rituals often serve a greater good: the psychological benefit of the living. From moving beyond grief, to ensuring a sense of control, these rituals are critical to ensuring we can go on living our lives after a loved one departs.
Freud is having a field day, as our rituals are basically one big global therapy session. You could imagine a world where taking part in a funeral procession or disposing of a body is actually a replacement for Xanax. Maybe Funeral Directors are the most balanced people on the planet?
“Hello, my name is Dmitrij Panov and I’m going to die soon. It may sound strange, but that’s how it is.”
And so begins the story of one man in Germany who wants to leave something behind that lives far beyond the celebration of his funeral. On his blog, he writes about the end of his life in candid fashion. No details are spared. And we mean none.
As bizarre as the concept sounds, Panov is finding a faithful audience wanting to follow his journey. But, Dimitri is only the latest of a long list of people like Eva Markvoort, Sherri Fillipo, Adam Kilgarriff, Max Ritvo, and Emma Betts who shared their last days online.
It’s clear we’re moving beyond traditional funeral; lives and the ends of them will be telecast, livestreamed, blogged, shared on social-media to name a few and, you better believe the journeys will be shared by anyone willing to tune in.
L.A. Artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s newest exhibit explores how your essence will be preserved when you die. The exhibit invites all of us to contemplate options from uploading yourself to the digital universe, to wearable memorials to to persona data monuments. Are we all ready for this future?
While many of touted the potential of virtual reality to change the world we live in, it’s clearly an opportunity for the living to engage with the deceased. Grandkids will be able to connect with grandparents long after they’re gone — and part of the healing process will undoubtedly include actual conversations with the deceased. Put on your virtual headset and watch this space closely.
Massively popular Canadian band, Tragically Hip, just performed one of the most shared music events of the past few years all under the backdrop of lead singer Gord Downie’s struggle.
Downie has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and fans across Canada and abroad gathered at viewing parties to tune in and bid him farewell. After it ended, Toronto broadcaster and writer Alan Cross tweeted: “We will talk about this show in hushed tones for years to come. #TragicallyHip”
Don’t look now, but death is becoming part of pop culture. In year’s past, someone in the public spotlight may have become reclusive as they entered their final days. Instead, it’s become — dare we say — “cool” to allow others to be involved in your dying process. Pop has crossed a new line — and this one may be as hip as it is tragic.
LAST WEEK’S RIPs
Juan Gabriel Mexican Music Icon
Rudy Van Gelder Jazz Sound Pioneer
Lou Pearlman Svengali N’Sync Ponzi
Sonia Rykiel French Fashion Designer
Warren Hinckle Muckraker Like Thompson
Esther Jungries American Holocaust Survivor
Jay Fishman Chief Executive Travelers
Morton Schindel Children Films Producer
Steven Hill Law & Order
People, if you got this far, please hit the ❤ below. It’s karmically sound.