Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Long Letters to the Future

I recently participated in a brain-storming session for the Howard County Library Choose Civility Symposium.  I don't want to give up any spoilers, but can say that I am more excited about this year's subject than any of its predecessors.  It is the right subject at the right time for the right community.

Anyhow, in the course of our discussion it was mentioned that we are the first generation to live so much of our lives online.  Overlooking convenience, engagement, and the other benefits of living in an online world - we're leaving a wealth of "us" for our great-great-great...grandchildren to read; so much so that it can be argued that they will know us in ways completely unavailable to us for our ancestors.

Obviously, as a blog writer, I find this to be a point of particular interest.  And yes, I am bestowing upon my descendants a sophistication of understanding that may be "optimistic", but I think that so far, I've done a pretty decent job of leaving those bits of myself online that I can be proud of.  I was not always right (who is?).  I've sometimes been stubborn (who wants to read ambivalence?).  I've let emotion overtake reason (the essence of humanity).

And for the most part, I've done this completely ignorant of the persistence of my words.  I just didn't think about it.

I'm writing about this subject now because I wonder how many of you think about the letters you're writing to the future.  Have you thought of your great-great-grandchild spending hours scanning your words for their homework assignment?  Word-searching your digital entries for how you felt about current events as they were happening?  Were you hateful?  Wrathful?  Selfish?  Were you loving?  Compassionate?  Brave?

We're going to be wrong on so many things.  Future relatives will be disappointed in us just as we may be ashamed of our ancestors on certain points.  But unlike those who came before us, we have ample opportunity to explain our reasons for doing what we do, believing what we believe, and treating each other the way we do.

This consideration can be paralyzing and I recommend against finding such gravity in it.  Live loud and enjoy this great tool that is the Internet.  But consider whether your digital persona is who you really are.  My daughter, and her friends, will be reading about you.

That's all for today.  Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!