Strangers at Online Ceremonies: Why I Cannot Farewell the DJ’s

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A discussion of being a stranger viewing an online ceremony and the issues it raises as we more commonly attend ceremonies virtually.

Strangers at Online Ceremonies: Why I Cannot Farewell the DJ’s

 

In our internet age, we can attend life’s events from anywhere. We have had radio and television bring us world events for decades. But the internet has allowed us to participate in the most private of human and animal life experiences. The beginning and the continuation of life. I refuse to use their real terms. But you know them. Continuation simply means choosing to believe the journey of life continues, just elsewhere and not in our physical form. That is a choice the individual must make to believe or not.

 

The purpose of this essay is not to dwell on what makes us happy and sad about those events. Rather, it is the contemplation that a stranger is now part of both milestones because of the internet. People put the beginnings and continuations, memorials and milestones, online. The essay is a reflection about being the stranger who is drawn into the private ceremony of the person’s continuation beyond the physical.

 

I want to tell a true story where I am a stranger being part of two continuation ceremonies. It is about two unique men. Both are (still are in my view) great DJ’s. They have much in common despite what happened to them being months apart over 2020 and 2021. The first is Shane. The second is Steve. The connection is through their love of music, which matched mine. Yet I was never friends with either. Their ceremonies were broadcast live on an internet stream. To hear so many dimensions to their lives that I never knew about was a privilege. They indeed had great and colourful lives under the spell of a love of music and entertaining crowds of full dance floors.

 

Shane, I met in person in 2010 and met him three times. He ran a karaoke night. Steve, I knew only from online. Both contributed so many mixes of songs which sit forever (well let’s hope the servers never blow up) online. That is their footprint that cannot be erased. So, they exist in cyberspace, not just hearts and memories. Do you remember when all we had was books and photos to remember any person or pet? But part of this new online deal is you could be sharing with anyone in the world. The benefits are brilliant. The risks cannot be ruled out. Even the nicest person in the world can received a hurtful troll comment even they did not know the person.

 

With the internet removing our privacy, you can argue that the beginnings and continuations of human and animal life on our planet earth journey are natural. Biology is a natural, non-negotiable process. Our customs and behaviours though may not be. We are uncomfortable with certain topics. That’s understandable. The person (or pet) is spoken of with fondness, but we know they, like us, are not perfect. Our obligation participating as a stranger in watching these ceremonies is to have empathy for those exposing their feelings to a potential worldwide audience. We are privileged to be allowed into this ceremony, even though it is mediated by a screen.

 

The question in this essay’s title though is, why cannot I, as a stranger, farewell these DJ’s. I look at what happened in Shane and Steve’s lives that were shared publicly.  Both were DJ’s playing my type of music; retro 80’s, techno and house. Both were geeks and it was obvious they adored technology. Both had romances that became marriage to two men they met. These husbands obviously knew they had found someone unique for their earth, and continuing, journey. Both had been dealt the experience of cancer. Both had colourful continuation ceremonies and wakes in Sydney Australia and online. Both had at the end of their ceremony’s actor Matthew Broderick’s video from Ferris Bueller's Day Off telling their audience to go home.

 

Were they remarkable men? Were they perfect? As an outsider, I only had brief contact with them. I cannot answer both questions, for they were not in my life in an intimate, friendship way. Regardless of my interactions in their life’s journey, without them really knowing, they made and played music which gives me constant pleasure. If I had known them in person, they might have given me a cassette of their music in the past. The internet removes this physical restriction as they posted their music on various music platforms. Electronically they have handed me what they loved; their music. That’s a gift that is appreciated.

 

Our lives are ruled by the internet. Obviously in 2021 the global pandemic is a spectre that prevents large crowds gathering for ceremonies. Inviting people to watch a ceremony over the internet is to some impersonal. To others it does feel like they are in the room sharing with other strangers’ tributes and emotions. We may still feel uncomfortable like it is an intrusion. Then we wonder what can we say to the persons’ friends online. Does it feel insincere to just message someone asking how they are? However, we need to try to give a kind word or just listen even though it is an online space. The friend or family may appreciate it, feeling no one really knows the depth of their happiness or sadness.

 

I cannot farewell these DJ’s. It is not about denial about life’s realities. It is easier to be the detached observer when just online, but watching ceremonies live in this way can still make one feel a part of it. Perhaps it is ironic in our busy lives that it is only at the ceremony that we wish we had been a greater part in that person’s life for we feel the emotions of the crowd. Differently from family and friends we do, but these emotions still validly exist.

 

Shane and Steve have footprints. They are special and unique to those knowing them. The stranger, I, has a different relationship to them. Watching online was once other worldly to the stranger. But now it is a form of valid connection. The stranger might not be known to the person’s family and friends. Yet through cyberspace the stranger honours what was and what is in the person’s journey. I cannot ever see a farewell; online is a continuation. It is more being invited into that online world is now commonplace due to our internet connected societies. But the emotions are just as real even if we are on the other end of the screen.

 

How can you farewell those just because you only knew them through the internet networks? While they are in the hearts of those that knew them, their contributions they made for everyone are the gifts that will always stir our emotions. Cyberspace is merely the place that hosts the memories we take with us on our own journey.

 


Submitted: February 01, 2021

© Copyright 2021 michaeln. All rights reserved.

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