Founder Collective

Jul 1, 2020

3 min read

Rites of passage conducted via Zoom are…not so bad?

When I first received invitations to a memorial service and Bat Mitzvah — conducted via Zoom — I was skeptical. I was wrong.

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My career has been focused on the promotion of new technologies.

At Founder Collective, we are firmly fond of “Weird & Wonderful” startups.

Still, when I first received invitations to a memorial service and Bat Mitzvah — conducted via Zoom — I was really skeptical.

I was wrong.

To be clear, there is no substitute for in-person connections at key life moments.

I don’t think these ceremonies are best conducted via webcam. Be that as it may, emetic responses to electronic additions is unwise. Consider the benefits of remote participation:

There are times when someone can’t travel to an event for health or work-related reasons. Providing those people a way to pay their respects, or join the party, even if in a limited fashion, should be seen as a net positive.

We all have contacts who we’d love to support, but who aren’t close enough to justify travel across the country or countries. Technology allows the “marginal mourner” to participate in a ceremony they might otherwise miss entirely.

In some ways, digital experiences are *superior.* Listening to an elder uncle memorialize his recently departed wife in person is moving, but there’s also value in recording reminisces of far-flung acquaintances so future generations can better know the aunt they never met.

When tech is added to sanctified spaces in a sloppy fashion, it feels sacrilegious. When it’s done well, “tech” blends in seamlessly. Just think about wedding photography — what was once a novelty in a sacred ceremony is now a wildly popular, multi-billion dollar industry.

Today, no one thinks of photography as “technology,” but it likely seemed that way to our grandparents In many ways, photography now drives key wedding decisions — from the selection of the venue to the timing of the ceremony ( … can’t miss “Magic Hour” for lighting!)

Innovations will highly likely creep in around the margins, so while we’re unlikely to see the Christian practice of sacraments delivered via SaaS anytime soon, Zoom reminisces are already highly likely to be played back for posterity.

As more entrepreneurs experiment, as clergy from all faiths synthesize these new tools into traditions, as consumer expectations shift — during Covid-19 we have already together proven that previously unthinkable behavior changes may be upon us sooner than we expect.

Someone once told me, “Satisfaction = Perception - Expectations.” My early experiences with these new forms of community benefited from low expectations, but as time passes, I fully expect that the left side of that equation will begin to do more work.