One morning last week, as I was getting out of bed and the day’s agenda began whirling through my mind — I managed to drop my iPhone into a tumbler of water. I immediately dried it off and saw with relief that the screen happily continued to glow. A day of back-to-back meetings later, I noticed my iPhone interface, while still alive and working, had turned dark grey — almost black.
I knew this couldn’t be good. A quick web search diagnosed my iPhone with the infamous “black screen of death.” Indeed, my phone appeared to be veiled in black tulle, like a mourning widow. It became a running joke that my iPhone had joined the SevenPonds team.
But in reality, as you may have noticed, the SevenPonds’ site is consciously sparing of black. As a team, we have developed guidelines for how to convey the contemporary, evolving perception of death — and avoiding a dark aesthetic is one of many.
Since I was too busy to immediately make a trip to the Apple store for a new iPhone, I found myself staring at the dark screen and contemplating why it is we associate death with black. Why is it that our culture has shrouded our most universal human experience, death, in morbid darkness? Fear of the unknown? The unseen?
Something big is happening in our contemporary minds: we are deciding to own our experiences — every experience, even death and dying. We are becoming aware and empowered, making those choices we can control about how death will take us from this world. In droves, more and more of us are choosing a healthy, personalized end-of-life experience. In Marin County, 92% of us are opting for cremation and scattering ashes. The numbers of us who now choose to die at home or have our own memorial celebrations are also increasing at a staggering rate.
What we are witnessing here is a grassroots movement towards taking ownership of our death.
As a physicist friend and I discussed while cycling in Palo Alto, nanotechnology of the future will allow us to live on forever (see Antal’s recent piece on Physics of the Future). This is another discussion that frightens many. However, until nanotechnology is perfected and employed, death will remain an inevitable part of life.
SevenPonds fully addresses today’s contemporary view of death. This week, as I turn my “black screen of death” iPhone in for a new white model, I can’t help but see the parallel: our mental image of death has changed. Out with let’s-not-talk-about-it, shrouded in black — and in with a let’s-get-educated new beginning!
Let’s just say that at SevenPonds, white is the new black.