While millions migrated to China’s cemeteries this weekend to burn paper money and bestow fake iPhones upon their ancestors, others went online to mourn. You heard right, as part of the campaign for “greener” grieving (and burial) practices, websites are offering virtual mourning services where you can build virtual shrines adorned with pixelated candles, bouquets and more. Think of it as Sim City: Tomb Sweeping. WSJ reports:
At least one user has created a shrine featuring Beijing’s Gate of Heavenly Peace, where they’ve chosen to supplant the portrait of Mao’s that hangs there in real life with images of his or her own loved ones. (Roast pigs, Terra Cotta warriors, and an elaborate white wreath of flowers were added to mark the recent holiday.)
For Qing Ming, users flooded the site with tens of thousands of virtual tributes, spanning everything from GIFs of animated white lotuses to drummers dressed in white or pictures of departed ones’ favorite foods. The company [Waheaven.com] says it currently has more than 3.4 million users.
China’s older populous have shunned the practice, stating, “Tomb-sweeping is about the spirit. If you don’t do it yourself in person, there is no spirit.”
Perhaps, though others have claim that reducing the number of pollution-causing fires in public places outweighs tradition. Not to mention that virtual tomb-sweeping may be the only way to get this eternally-online new generation involved in the custom.