I am sitting down on my lawn chair by the water, watching a Skype funeral.
It’s nice to be able to look away if the funeral gets too sad, although this one isn’t too bad. It’s my third this week but I don’t really know the person. I’m simply watching it because my friend said that they paid for the upgrade for the funeral Design Piks and they apparently have an eccentric taste.
WELCOME scrolls across the black screen in glitzy gold letters. I feel rather odd being welcomed to a funeral but it is the fashion to start with a welcome for all of the Skype funerals ever since the first one four years ago.
The screen pans over many pictures of the man, Harold Hansen. They must have taken video of a bunch of his printed photos and then set it to fast forward. I am not really impressed with the expensive payment so far.
From the pictures, I notice that he was an ugly baby but made up for it in his teen and early twenty years and even as an old man he looked pretty spry.
The next part, the screen flashes brightly and they are showing this picture of the man right before he died. I wasn’t expecting the flash, like a little bit of heaven. I wonder absentmindedly if he went to heaven or not.
“Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls,” a background voice announces, almost like we are at some sort of carnival or theatre. “We are glad to have you, yes every one of you, join us for this special event. According to our statistics, over 3 million viewers are currently watching the funeral of Harold Hansen.”
They are panning the camera over the casket and I look away. A soothing female voice interrupts my lake viewing with, “Hansen was a man..” they flash pictures of manly men, “A man to be remembered.” They flash pictures of statues and oil paintings and such things as that.
So far the graphics have been phenomenal, but people can get that type of thing on their old, out of date iPhone Argent 7’s now so I don’t’ really see where the upgrade money really helped. They transitions between pictures and audio has been nice too, I guess.
And then they get to the documentary part. It tells of Harold’s life and shows different video segments that he took and that his is it. It is really quite vintage looking and as I follow him through high school years or leather jackets and college years of unopened textbooks, I feel like I know him.
I look to the white caps on the lake again while they discuss his first wedding. His wife was quite beautiful, I notice when I look back at the screen. There is a black and white picture of them kissing and I wonder if he looked at it a lot.
The later part of his life was rather dull when he did some important political things. I stop paying attention as the video goes on twenty minutes. I don’t know how long it is projected to take. I let my mind go back to the first Skype Funeral I ever attended.
It was for Lady Gaga. We were told, via the press, that she was only having a Skype funeral as per her will. It was the huge rave and, of course her family paid for all of the Skpe users to watch it at the same time. You see the main part of the funeral on the top as a partial live stream and partial pre-recorded segment from some studio that makes stuff like this and then on the bottom inch of the screen, all of the faces of other users watching the funeral with you.
There were over 20 million ‘attendees’ of her funeral.
Gaga’s funeral truly was monumental and paved the way for the future. They played parts of each of her songs and different quotes from interviews and it was weird, of course, all put together in a strange Skype video.
And so it became the fashion right then and there. They didn’t tell us until later that she had actually had a real funeral to go along with the Skype one and that we hadn’t attended her “one and only” funeral. But by then the idea of a Skype funeral had taken over.
And here I am now. They are finally done with Harold’s life story. “There will be a statue of Harold in New York and we hope you will al come visit it as a tribute.” They are playing Amazing Grace as the leaving song but right in the middle, the words “Special Announcement” pop up on the screen. I watch them scroll.
“Do you really want this to be our world? Do you really want to be watching Skype funerals with your ass stuck to your chair? All electronic and no real emotion? What about welcoming your children into a world that you are proud of instead of into more and more Skype funerals? –Harold Hansen”
Amazing Grace continues to play and I log out. I would give this Skype Funeral a disappointing B. Skype funerals are to remember the person and feel for them, not about tut-tutting the world for something that has allowed more people to mourn for those they loved. Oh well, one dud for the week isn’t so bad.
I have three hours until my next Skype funeral and I hope it won’t be as crappy as this one was.