By Peter Billingham
"Live streaming funerals panders to people’s laziness?" Really?
I have misgivings.
It's a statement by the president of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, Paul Allcock. When asked about the rise in people requesting the option of live streaming at funerals he replied,
“It’s wonderful for those relatives who live abroad, but there’s also a danger of pandering to people’s laziness and not attending personally and sharing your condolences, which is such an important part of the grieving process."
Do you believe viewing a funeral online encourages people's laziness? I'm not sure it does.
In an age where we have "video game natives," watching a funeral online would be "normal." Is it not pandering to laziness. What do you think?
OK, I know that the quote had the potential of being taken out of context in a much larger interview. And, as often is the case, it's the meaty morsels of soundbites that get the attention in the press. In a bigger conversation about the use of digital media in funeral services, it was extremely revealing to be so quoted. For the President of one of the largest Independent Funeral Directors Associations to consider digital technology is advancing laziness, is at one level unfortunate and at another showing an unawareness of how culture is driving change. Especially, in the funeral industry. Especially among the generations that are going to be booking funerals (mostly online I guess) in the next few years.
But I Don't Want It In Black!
Whether it's apocryphal or true that Henry Ford said, "You can have any colour you like, as long as it's black," I don't know. But what I do know is that personalisation of products and services is what consumers want. Culture today drives consumers choices. Then industry then responds to that customer demand. If you try to constrict people into buying what you want to sell them, they will just go elsewhere. I do, I bet you do too. The truth is someone, somewhere, will meet that need. That will drive people to search the internet, and the rise of the online funeral will increase.
The personalisation of consumption is everywhere and for everything. Nike allows you to ‘build your own’ footwear. You can choose the colour and material choices for the base layer, sole, laces, tongue, upper, logo and even your own logo. Personalisation is available in printing, fast food and even furniture and now funerals. We see it in the diverse array of hearses, for example from Volkswagon Camper Vans to Motorbikes.
Colwyn Bay Crematorium, which is operated by Conwy Council, is offering a live streaming service to family and friends just launched this month.
People Want Choice.
To have the choice of adding a digital dimension to a funeral service is not pandering to laziness. It is being aware that digital technology is creating a new approach to the way that people mourn. A new way that people grieve and a new way that people want to share the loss of a loved one.
My Funeral Video Streamed For The Video Native
Perhaps, a "video game native" might want their whole funeral streamed. That is exactly what happened earlier this month.
Take the case of a 24-year-old professional video gamer from the US killed in a car crash. The funeral streaming live on a video gaming platform which he played called Twitch. Amazon-owned Twitch is a live-streaming platform. It is where gamers stream video of themselves playing video games. Then others watch the action in real time.
OK, you may not get that.
Are you are telling me that people can earn money by playing video games on their computers while other people watch?
Yes, and lots of it!
This live streaming platform is not an ideal platform for this kind of event. It is using one digital technology, to aid another. People were leaving comments, with sincere thanks and respect. 66,000 people have watched the funeral. In addition, which is a conversation for another day, £14,000 has been raised crowdfunding for his funeral.
This is exactly what Alexei Maxim Russell says in the opening quote.
It is not about pandering to laziness.
It's not about pandering to anything.
It's about the generation now booking mum and dad's funeral that have only ever known an Internet-powered world. They grew up on and never stopped playing video games. We may not acknowledge or understand that, but media rich funerals are the future. To not embrace this cultural change of live streaming or using video memorials during a service will be driving your potential customers to find some funeral company that will.
Success Tomorrow And Survival Is Digital
The successful Funeral Directors of tomorrow will be the firms that embrace digital technology in its all forms. It's not pandering to laziness but embracing cultural change. That is good for people who have lost a loved one. That is good for giving them a choice, and it is good for business.
I would love to know your thoughts. Does live streaming pander to laziness? Or, is it responding to the times we live? Please let me know in the comments below or email me.
For more information on live streaming funerals check out this post which shows how - LIVE STREAMING HELPS YOUR FUNERAL BUSINESS IN THREE WAYS