Jack Cotter, social media expert for Dealerscope and CustomRetailer, helps retailers and manufacturers find the answers to their social media problems.
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Well not really. But I had an experience I'd like to share that reminded me to open my mind to the possibilities of deeper things around me.
Both of my girlfriend's grandparents passed away in the last couple of years. One weekend the rest of the family was in town so we went visit the gravesite. On one of the first glorious spring days of the year, six of us piled into a minivan for a long drive into central New Jersey.
We pulled into a Russian Orthodox cemetery and wound through the grounds past a little Moscow-style church with three golden cupolas, all the way around to the far end where there was a small, quiet section of Buddhist graves.
I had never seen this before, but all of the Buddhist headstones had photographs on them. At first we tip-toed around carefully, barely whispering. It was so peaceful back there in the grass and flowers and sunlight. Were we disturbing the people buried there? Was it wrong to walk over them?
I took my cue on how to behave from her dad, since we were there to see his parents. We turned around and he was crouched down taking a picture of the headstone. I never got to meet them so I was glad it was ok to take a close look.
As we got comfortable we began to perk up. We strode through the rows looking at all the names, the dates, and the photographs. Some of the names her dad knew. Some he didn't. We wondered about the people who lived long full lives, and those whose lives were cut tragically short. Many of these people had taken long journeys to the United States in the early 20th century.
The photographs were fascinating. Some were of the deceased as young people close to a century ago. Others were taken in old age. Some were photographed together as couples when they first met, or just before they parted ways.
I felt good about looking at these pictures and discussing them. I didn't feel like we were disturbing the peace anymore, I felt like we were honoring lives by remembering the people who lived them.
For me the experience was memorable and fulfilling -- to be perfectly honest, it exceeded the expectations I had of spending an afternoon in a cemetery with the in-laws.
A month later, it was still on my mind when I came across a headline about QR codes on gravestones.
Aesthetically, it's an unpleasant idea. I don't like the look of a QR code, and especially not on a headstone. It looks too much like you just put a barcode on a person. But as a concept, I love it. Maybe it would feel more appropriate with a less visually disruptive connection, like NFC or Bluetooth...
Imagine a stroll through that same cemetery, and after looking at the photographs and wondering about the lives, you could pull up a biography on your phone. What if there was even a favorite song or painting that could evoke the spirit of being with that person? A visit to the cemetery could be a great tribute and a history lesson rolled into one.
When you're at work all day plugged into a computer, writing about the newest product, it's nice to find a connection to something spiritual. For me, it's a reminder that nothing is really insignificant, and I shouldn't scoff at QR codes, or that headline I saw.
There are incredible things we can do with everything around us, especially in an industry that is constantly innovating. We just need to keep our minds open and our imaginations free.