I was listening to Radio 4 this morning (not as a considered choice, but because hubby always puts it on in the kitchen!) and the commentary that I caught most of was about diaries. I’m vaguely addicted to writing a diary myself, a habit I adopted when my eldest was born, nearly 14 years ago. Sadly, I no longer get time to add to it daily – in fact once a week would be good, so sporadic have my updates now become. However, thinking about it, now technology is so much more accessible and simple to use, I’ve got much more of a video clip library going on – every few days I record little bits and pieces which would take me ages to recount in writing (and which would be illegible anyhow!) This footage might be much more rewarding to look back on in years to come than endless notebooks of scrawl (which it really is – sometimes I’ve fallen asleep writing it and the last few words before the pen finally slides across the page are just gobbledygook!)
However, I would be really sad to think that I’d be hanging up my pen for good in favour of the video or camera – I go through life with the children mentally recording things that I want to note down at some point (and inevitably, frutratingly, forget!) (I also find myself recounting experiences to myself in 140 character Twitter notes, ready to Tweet, but that’s a different story!!)
The gist of the commentary on the radio show was also how sad it would be if diaries were to go the way of the long, discursive letters which have largely been replaced by emails and social media. We were reminded that diaries are fabulous vehicles for the writer to sound off about daily life, adopt a different character, record all the stages in a momentous project or achingly fabulous love affair or simply to record life as they know it and maybe want others to know about too at a later date. Also, diaries have an important part to play in recording current affairs of the day – from them historians and commentators extract details about codes of conduct, prices, politics, wars, religion, secret trysts and just about anything else you can think of. How sad would it be, then , to potentially lose such a valuable form of recording daily life as we know it.
As the programme continued, I found myself thinking that yes, writing of diaries might now be on the wane as there are only so many hours in the day and with increasing amounts of time spent on the internet, particularly engaging in social media, there has to be some give somewhere.
My immediate thought was blogs – could they be the 21st Century diary replacement? Are they the same, though? I think not. While some diaries might be written with readers in mind, I would guess that the vast majority are kept only for reading by the author. The same cannot be said for blogs, as the author’s intention in writing a post is to share it. However, we are slowly becoming more ‘social’ in our outlook, as we spend more and more time sharing often quite mundane details of our lives on Twitter and Facebook. So maybe this is where the historians of the future will need to look in order to find out about society as we know it today! Let’s hope Twitter and Facebook posts are archived in perpetuity. I’d love to see what will be written about the social media revolution some 50 years from now!