Smartphones Breathe new Life into Death

by Matt Klassen on March 28, 2013

For some death serves as the end of the road, the cessation of being, while for others it stands as but another transition, a penultimate stop along our path through existence. No question an issue of great disagreement, contention, and fear, death remains for now an inexorable part of our existence, a confusing and nebulous event that we often choose to immortalize with slabs of lifeless granite.

But while these stones remind us of the physical remains buried within, they tell us little about one’s human narrative, the terse closing sentence of a book that says nothing about the multitude of interesting and engaging chapters that came before it. So while we may disagree on the details of the afterlife (or lack thereof), technology has given us a way of immortalizing our legacy with the simple swipe of a smartphone.

In fact, several cemeteries around the world are becoming, for lack of a better term, interactive, including Quick Response bar codes (or QR codes) on the headstones of those who wish to participate in this service, codes that once scanned give details of the persons’ life, access to family pictures, and other interesting information. Perhaps one of the first ways technology will truly help us live forever.

As one might expect, there’s no shortage of condemnation for such an interactive graveside feature, many complaining that technology has no place meddling with the dead, perhaps knowing full well that the grave now serves as the first respite from the constant ringing of one’s smartphone.

But levity aside, this is certainly not the first time technology has come to the cemetery, as virtual graveyard tours are widely available across the Web for those, like my father for instance, who continue to be fascinated where people he knew, or saw on TV, or heard of once, finally ended up, this newest mobile feature simply the latest addition in the complex relationship between death and technology.

The fact of the matter is mobile technology is revolutionizing the way we see the world around us, with such scan technology giving us a deeper understanding of history, contemporary culture, and even ourselves. So perhaps its fitting that such technology be employed to keep the memory of our loved ones alive as well, not only so that we can remember, but so that the legacy of our loved one’s can continue to touch others as well.

“It is about keeping the memory of someone alive,” Stephen Nimmo, managing director of the funeral home Chester Pearce Associates, told ABC News. “This man or woman really did something — these are the people they knew, these are their family, this is where they went. You can learn a lot more about people than what you see on the stone.”

Again, while many may decry this interactive feature, the only downside that I see is where such technology will lead, as mark my words, some soulless corporate giant will undoubtedly soon see the cemetery as the latest untapped advertising market, meaning that one day the interesting life of John Smith, 1935-2013, will be brought to you by Coke, or Nike, or some other god awful thing, an addition that will truly mar the immortality of our legacies.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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