The Value of Our Words

One of the most amazing things about the Bible is that the authors didn’t fully comprehend what they were writing. As a shepherd boy, David wrote poems of praise to pass the time in the fields and journaled prayers on anguish and praise to God later in life. Paul wrote letters from a prison cell to the churches he counseled.

Similarly, in more recent history, we understand the complicated emotions of a Jewish child in hiding during World War II because of Anne Frank’s diary. We know how hard the journey through Ellis Island was for many immigrants because of historical records as well as how many people retained letters.

One of the features of Ancestry.com is the ability to read newspaper articles, letters, and oral histories about relatives. These vibrant pieces help to paint a picture of what was happening within a family during a significant point in history.

Perhaps we forget from time to time that today, we have more than newspaper articles and news reports documenting our daily history. Social media is a digital journal. Just like Anne Frank, every social channel we use can record our daily thoughts, images, and comments of the moment, likely without us considering who will see them beyond the next few hours, let alone beyond the next few centuries.

Occasionally we may regret overheated words (well, at least I do) and we’re thankful there is a delete button. That is, unless someone chooses to take a screenshot of our comments and archive them, right? While this scenario isn’t exactly true, a version of it is.

One of the first things my boss taught me when I started working in digital media is that nothing is ever wholly erased online. I know you want to believe that deleting your Facebook account is as simple as going through the steps Facebook provides, however, even if you delete your profile, your comments aren’t removed, nor are your images. Further, we’re relying on a company that’s proved repeatedly to not quite tell the truth about our data.

Essentially, when we use social media, we’re creating digital journals for future generations to view as part of our historical records. If you’re panicking right now, thinking of your great-grandchildren scrolling through your Facebook feed. Scary? I’m sorry. Stick with me for a minute, though, since we’ve already established the record isn’t going away.

Read the rest about creating an online legacy over at The Glorious Table

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