The online guide to how to die
Silver surfers prepare to be silver turfers
It's still a major taboo in our culture - which is odd because every single person spends a long time and a lot of effort in confronting/understanding it. What are we on about? Death, of course.
Call us dark, sick, but there is something funny about a Web site set up to tell old people about death. Guide For Life.com is just that. It is also very well put together, informative and very interesting - particularly the essays on how different religions deal with death and loved ones.
The site includes a whole manner of things like planning ahead, coping with death, care and support, mobility and independence and so on and so forth. We like it and we also think that this is just the sort of thing that the Internet is terrific at.
That said, there are two major flaws. One, how many OAPs have an Internet connection? Not many we reckon. Plus, is it really in councils' interests to spend money on PCs and Net technology - wouldn't it be better spent on trips away, better care/food, that sort of thing? Second, if there is one group of people that know most about death, it's old people. In fact, they are a veritable goldmine of spiritual and practical advice if you ask them.
That said, top research company Forrester just today produced a report which said that the grey army is about to invade the Internet. Within a year, it reckons, some older users will be giving the young uns a run for their money when it comes to online gaming and shopping. And if you think about it, it's not a bad bit of logic. Old folk are often unfeasibly bored as they have nothing to do. Get a granny hooked on the Net and she'll be hacking the Pentagon before you can say "nice cuppa tea?"
But going back to the Guide for Life site, many old folk will just not care a jot. I remember telling my grandmother that one of her best friends from when she was young had died that week. My gran was surprised: "Well, I never thought she would last this long," she told me. "She was always a bit of a fast liver."
As further evidence of older folk getting into IT, Dutch publisher VNU's mag ComputerActive runs a death list as it regularly has to knock people off its circulation cos they've popped their clogs. ®