Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How far can we take this connectivity?

Recently a friend of mine died. He wasn't a close friend, and we were no longer in direct contact. But we had shared friends with whom we were both in contact and we kept track of each other that way. Most of my keeping in touch was done via Facebook.

Some years ago, a close friend of mine died of a brain tumour. She was in Cape Town. I was in the UK.

Many of our shared friends collected together in little huddles to mourn and grieve and remember and console each other, and then of course, they attended the funeral, where they were able to draw a sad line under a life that had been too short by several decades.

I had sent an email of sympathy to her husband, part of which was read out at the service. But I wasn't there.

I desperately wanted to fly 'home' to be among people whose hearts were aching as much as my own. But friends who hadn't seen me in years would be torn between taking advantage of the brief opportunity to spend time with me, and focusing on remembering Madeleine's brief life. I had no wish to upstage Mads on her final journey. I couldn't do that to her husband and young girls. So I sat here in the UK feeling sorry for myself.

On Saturday, my sister is getting married. My family and I spent three weeks in South Africa in April, a trip we booked a year previously, when the wedding had been scheduled for April. When it was postponed, we couldn't reschedule our flights without losing enormous amounts of money. And now that I am without a steady income, we can't risk the expense of another trip (at £800/per person). My parents, all my aunts and uncles, all my cousins will be there - with their spouses whom I have never even met, and their children (ditto). Only my own little family will be absent.

Have we reached the time when it has become appropriate to stream a wedding? Even a funeral? So that family and friends abroad can attend remotely. Greener. Cheaper. More inclusive.

I would have loved to join in the singing at Mads's funeral (we used to sing in the church band together, so I know her family would have chosen wonderful music). I would have loved to hear the eulogies, and wept a little weep that did not feel so very alone.

I would love for my family to be able to join in at my sister's wedding. She's had a rough journey and she's finally marrying someone resembling a human being. She will look stunning in her burnt orange dress as her son walks her down the aisle. Her eldest daughter will have done everyone's make-up to perfection. My aunts and uncles will sit around and catch up. My cousins' children will behave as children do at weddings, and my cousins will deal with them in a wide range of ways.

I would be glad of an image on my computer screen, so I would!

Sadly, my sister doesn't know anyone with the kit to make this happen, so we'll have to settle for the video and photos on disk when they finally arrive.

I've touched on the topic of web-funerals before, web-weddings are surely a variation on that theme. I just wonder why it doesn't happen....


Cammy Bean said...

At my father's memorial service a few weeks ago, we tossed around the idea of trying to get a live stream of the service up so his brother back on the East Coast could be there. We couldn't get the technology together on such short notice, either, but we did our best to send advance copies of the program, the music we sang, the poems we read. The family who weren't there followed along at their own pace as best they could. Not quite the same as being there, but their hearts were with us and my father, just the same.

I know that you will be there with your sister with all your heart as well, if not your body.

The upsycho said...

Ah, Cam - I had forgotten the immediacy of this topic to you! I hope I haven't reopened fresh wounds. Thanks for your input. If it wasn't possible for you to arrange such high-techness in the US, it is inconceivable for my sister in deepest darkest (okay, shallowest, lightest) Africa.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karyn,

Don't know if you were aware that Clay Burrell streamed his wedding last year(http://beyond-school.org/2008/03/08/an-invitation/)... your thoughts are not as strange as you may have thought!

As you no doubt know, you might be separated by miles, but you are never truly separated from your family.

Anonymous said...

Congrats for your sister's wedding, I know it's a difficult time for you.

The upsycho said...

@neil I didn't know that, but I had thought of U-stream. When I suggested the idea to my sister, she thought she would have to commandeer a satellite to make it happen!

Anonymous said...

Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins had part of her wedding online, although I don't think they streamed it. She mentioned Twitter, TwitPic, and several cameras.


Ustream would probably be the way to go, at least right now. I'm not sure if that technology is really good for big events though--it works OK for interviews and such, but I'm not sure about getting the feel of a wedding.

Anonymous said...

Beautifull written as usual. I loved the 'children will behave as children do in weddings part'. Amazing indeed, in you heart you are already there Karyn, so do not feel sad. You are awesome, enjoy the flowers, the changing colors of sky and your sons. I think of following your footsteps...

Jason Allen said...

Ok, Karyn,
So my inner entrepreneur got all excited about what a great niche I could fill with a minimum of technology and effort, and told everyone about it - and just before I went to the bank to fill out a loan application for my new "webcasting of weddings" business, I googled it.
There are HUNDREDS of businesses out there across the UK and US and Canada that allow you to either connect with a professional videographer and webcast the wedding, or do it yourself (one outfit will even loan you the laptop and wirelss modem - for a fee).
Now, as far as funerals go - there's a niche I could see filling - of course I think I'd better google it first. :)

Anonymous said...

And boy I did follow your footsteps. Yeah, this is heaven. I am out absorbing nature. Hey thanks this feels great!

The upsycho said...

@jammasterjay Glad to hear that it seems to be happening... of course the US and UK don't help my sister, who is in South Africa, where I am typing this comment using a 57.5 Kbps dial up connection!

V Yonkers said...

I "attended" the wedding of a colleague 5 years ago when she married in Lyons, France. What was interesting was that we had never met and this was the first time I ever saw her! It was wonderful! We only had dial-up service (she and I). She did this because she was an American and her relatives and friends were all over the world (including a number of them in North Africa).

I know of many people who use camera phones at these "live" events to stream an image of what is going on. While not perfect, it at least helps to maintain the connection.