Andy Warhol once foretold, “In the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes.” I wonder if he knew that in the future, every wedding would get its 15 minutes as well.
Live streaming of a couple’s nuptials, aptly dubbed an “e-wedding” by Jen Doll of The Atlantic Wire, is apparently burgeoning in popularity. What started out as propping grandma up with Skype so she could watch the ceremony despite her recent hip surgery has morphed into a business of professional wedding live-stream services. These services rake in big bucks from couples who, “just want to share their big day with a larger audience” or “have a small and intimate wedding that’s also live-streamed” (and an oxymoron).
To be fair, sending someone an e-vite to your e-wedding depends on your relationship to them IRL. It’s the age of airfare, cell phones, the Internet; staying in meaningful communication with friends, family, or colleagues across the globe is now easier than ever (or so I’m told). In these cases, receiving an e-wedding invite is like that rare snuggle from your cat—a truly joyous occasion. Getting e-vited as the passive follower of a Facebook contact who never intends to see you in the physical world? Kind of like a half-masticated bird—not a real gift.
Internet etiquette is tricky. Supposedly it exists, even though people tend to decry a lack of it on a case-by-case basis. (I, for one, will “like” all of your pet photos, but profile pics of you and your sig other in bed give me the heebie jeebies—the rest is just too easy to visualize). Yet it’s hard not to see the mass mailing of e-wedding links as one more symptom of that uptick in American narcissism psychologists are always talking about.
Now call me a narcissist for asserting this, but one of the ironies of our age is that this process we call “social networking” involves so little of the reciprocity that actually makes up the social contract. With e-weddings, as with anything online, we might all feel saner if we thought a little longer about what we’re “sharing” with whom, and whether it’s sharing in the true, give-and-take sense of the world. Is it informative; will it bring joy? Be smart about choosing recipients and honest about whether they’ll care. And then, my fellow narcissist, spare them if they don’t. You're still the one getting hitched.