2020 has certainly been the year of the ‘new normal’. Our new life in which we stay home and socially distance has affected the way we work and learn but just as importantly, the way we celebrate!
Without a doubt, the video call saved the day while we all stayed home and socially distanced. Work meetings continued and learning at home still happened thanks to this wonderful technology. And while some people used video calls to remain in touch with family and friends, this remarkable technology also helped many people worldwide continue to celebrate life’s important milestones such as school and university graduations; weddings and, even the celebration of life at funerals.
One of my oldest friends has two daughters who have just virtually graduated from their high school and university. Before each occasion, the girls were sent their cap and gown and their graduation certificates via the post. On the day of each event, the girls donned their specially purchased dresses – which were purchased long before ‘lockdown’ (along with their cap and gown) – and participated in the ceremony via video call. Dressed to the 9’s, their immediate family also watched the ceremony and witnessed their daughter (and sister) officially graduate.
While there wasn’t perhaps the same sense of camaraderie as if their cohort had graduated together in person, the video call was definitely the next best thing. It allowed them to see their friends, receive the public accolades they both so deserved and, most importantly, it provided a sense of completion and closure that allowed them to start thinking about their next phase in life.
Within weeks of lockdown, the virtual wedding industry was well established. Companies such as Simply Eloped were offering virtual wedding packages that provided planning assistance, a virtual ceremony emcee, advice on acquiring a license and tech support. Specialised tech companies were also offering to coordinate weddings on video calling apps and manage guests on multiple devices.
And if you are getting married, of course you need photography so virtual photographers became a thing as did customised wedding backdrops providers and virtual live musicians to entertain your guests. If there was ever an example of an industry that mastered the art of pivoting, it was definitely the wedding industry!
Celebrating the End Of A Life – Virtually
Probably one of the hardest milestones to miss in person during lockdown was the celebration of life – the funeral. Around the world, many countries limited attendees at funerals to as low as 10 to ensure social distancing which meant live streaming the service became the next best option.
Specialised funeral live streaming companies such as OneRoom sprung up allowing family and friends the opportunity for a private farewell even if they couldn’t attend in person. While a funeral service is an important way to remember and celebrate the life of the recently deceased, it is also an important part of the grieving process. I have several friends who lost treasured family members during the lockdown period who were very comforted by having the option to have a copy of the live-streamed service which they could watch several times.
If there’s ever a time to be grateful for the power of technology (and video calls) it’s now! I just can’t imagine how we have all survived the isolation without being able to stay in touch and see the faces of family and friends! But just like every aspect of online life, video calling apps are fantastic when used sensibly but they do also carry some risks. Here are my top tips to ensure that you can safely celebrate life’s milestones online:
Don’t Share Links to Video Calls
Whether it’s a wedding ceremony, baby shower, meeting with a virtual photographer or a funeral service, sharing links to video calls means you are essentially extending the invitation to anyone who gets their hands on the link. Not only does this compromise the privacy of everyone involved but video call ‘bombers’ have been known use threatening and intimidating language which could be very unsettling.
Keep Your Personal Meeting ID Tight!
Some video calling apps allocate each user a PMI or personal meeting ID. Your PMI is basically one continuous meeting so anyone that has access to it can enter any of your future meetings or gatherings. Always generate a random meeting ID for any events where you don’t truly know your invitees.
Video Calls Can Be Recorded
Don’t forget that video calls can be recorded. Even though a video call may feel like real life – it is not! So, if you are celebrating hard at your friend’s wedding, be mindful that your ‘high-energy’ behaviour may be recorded on camera!!
While ‘lockdown life’ may almost be over for some of us, many experts believe ‘social distancing’ will be a way of life for some time. So, if you have an important celebration on your radar, don’t despair – a well-planned virtual celebration can definitely be worthwhile and will be a great story to pass down to future generations!
Happy Virtual Celebrating!