Before I kept a blog, I kept a paper journal. I still keep a paper journal, partly because I happen to like writing on paper. In fact, I started an online journal because it was just like a paper journal, except on the Internet. This was before I knew about Internet drama, the permanence of the Internet, and the popularity of these things called blogs. It was also before WordPress existed and before web space was as inexpensive as it is now.
The paper journal to blog progression was a natural one for me. But what about kids these days who’ve grown up online? Some of them started blogging, then moved to Facebook or Twitter or what-have-you. Some of them grew up in the age of Facebook and Twitter and automatically hopped on those sites. Places that don’t even function as long-form blogs. (Okay, Facebook has its Notes feature, but how many people do you know who use that as more than “Post the soundtrack of your life” or “Stripper names/Steal my identity because I’m giving you everything except my social security number”?) Kids these days are buried in their iPhones and video games and never knew a life without a computer. To them, the Internet has always existed, and with that, all the modern conveniences they’ve come to know.
If not for all this modern technology, some of these people may have started paper journals or even blogs, and with that they’d get an archive of everything they’ve written. For me, that’s the main perk of keeping a journal. I’ve traveled back in time to that one time back in high school math class or to that middle school science class (can you tell I did a lot of writing in class?) or to the middle of life stresses. I could never accomplish this with a Twitter or Facebook feed. The character limit can’t communicate what a full journal entry can. Compare a full entry about the excitement of traveling to a new country to something like “In nine hours I will be in PARIS! I can’t believe I’m going to be in a new place where I can speak French and no one will think I’m weird!” Obviously the full entry would be more convincing, and you haven’t even read it.
Yet Twitter and Facebook are the archives of choice for most people. As Paul Carr put it, immediacy is trumping posterity. It’s time to turn that around. Let’s take back posterity.