The Teenager Whose Life, And Then Funeral, Was Broadcast On YouTube

By Michael Avery in News On 13th October 2015

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Tens of thousands of people tuned in to watch 13-year-old Caleb Bratayley's memorial service, streamed live on Facebook. Many users pitched in with fond memories and messages of condolence. This isn't out of place, seeing as millions of people watched him grow up.

Caleb, along with his two sisters, was a star of the hugely popular Bratayley family YouTube channel. They have been posting videos of their adventures for years, leading many of their viewers to really feel like part of the family. They have 1.8 Million subscribers and have posted 1,349 videos, tallying up more than a billion views.

Very recently, their son Caleb sadly died unexpectedly of natural causes. His parents told ABC News that a heart condition runs in the family, but the exact cause of death has yet to be determined.

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The news was announced originally on Instagram, and then more formally shortly after at the end of their most recent vlog, in which Caleb is detailing the questions he wants to ask his future self.

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They then posted a heartbreaking 20-minute-long video, collating clips of Caleb growing up and being the outgoing and much-loved kid he very clearly was. Titled ‘Gone but never forgotten' the video makes us aware of the benefit of having your families exploits on film, as they now have so many fond memories of Caleb to look back on.

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It's easy to understand the criticisms of YouTuber families, many of whom have absolutely huge online followings but remain mostly unknown by the general public. The Bratayleys not their real surname post videos of themselves going on family trips, playing sports and doing science experiments. It's ordinary but authentic stuff, which may explain why the channel has more than 1.8 million subscribers.

Caleb's death and memorial opened a window into the world of YouTube families self-made reality stars. Some were critical of the decision to live-stream such a private matter, raising questions about the genre and how families navigate the ethical considerations involved in broadcasting their children's lives to the world.

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On the other hand, they asked for the continued support of the people who had been there watching Caleb grow up. As they see their subscribers more like family than fans, it doesn't seem completely outlandish to open the boy's funeral to all those that watched him grow up.

Here is the service celebrating Caleb's life: