I’ve seen more than one news article recently that has someone discovering a family treasure of letters, books, postcards and memorabilia. And it made me realize how much of family history will be increasingly lost in this digital age.
Oh sure, we can save a bagillion terabytes of data on a fingernail sized device, but there’s no romance in the discover. How many people write letters longhand anymore? Or keep correspondence? I have a few from back in college or hand made cards but will any future descendant be checking my old hard drives for email? Especially when I regularly delete old mail? Do people write thoughtful letters to prominent figures and get more than a form letter reply and a pointer to the website? Will children linger over their great grandparents selfies wondering who all those strange faces and places are? There’s no musty steamer trunk smelling of mothballs with old parchments. Attics like a pharaohs tomb of dust and stale sunlight waiting to be discovered.
I’m not advocating some mass return to old fashioned mail and obsessive scrap booking to manufacture memories. I’m just sharing a moment of melancholy for the passing of this stuff. The digital age is wonderful but we are analog beasts.
How can we expect the future to know what really mattered and who we really were. There’s such a desperate celebration of mediocrity won’t our descendants just think we had time for nothing but indulgences?
I had a pause over my own mortality recently. I wasn’t wondering about “my legacy” or what might become of my family without me – I was worried about my books. Who would want them? Who would read them? I’ll have to find them homes someday before I’m too decrepit and Sohmer has moved me into some kind of sweatshop for seniors.