Many of us post, check-in, share and click as routinely as we brush our teeth in the morning. In between the lines of every status update, tagged photo and uploaded video is a digital movement that is redefining how we preserve one of a community’s greatest possessions – its memories. From a cultural standpoint, memories have broader implications than nostalgia. As explained in an article from the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, “memories are represented as a social understanding of events that are constructed by sharing a set of images from one generation to the next. Whether through paintings, music, photos or films, the preservation of memories is a collective effort. ‘Memory’ is therefore not a standard term of analysis, but itself an object altered and transformed.”
In today’s Friday5, we explore how social media is transforming our idea of memories individually and as a society. Memories are shared with whomever happens to cross digital our paths.
Memories and stories that were once insulated by the limited capabilities of classic word of mouth are now being spread by an entirely new landscape that has redefined what it means to “share.” Current histories are brought to life as a digital archive of films, documentaries and music that has resurfaced right next to the Justin Biebers and instant sensations (Charlie Bit my Finger is an all-time favorite) of this generation. YouTube, which turned six this past February, has dramatically shifted our method of communication within its lifetime. Stories at the dinner table now begin with, “I saw it on YouTube.”
In early February, Edelman Digital tweeted the question – “Today @Facebook turns 7! When did you first join Facebook?” It’s an amazing digital feat how the responses were similar to when you first met a friend, rather than signing up for a website. Over the past seven years, Facebook has become our digital best friend. It’s a main source for wedding updates, baby announcements, career shifts and even vacation photos. Without even speaking a word to a former classmate, a consistent connection has been kept in place. Through the tagged photos and status updates, Facebook has combined high-school reunions, photo albums and memory journals in one comprehensive digital location.
From parties to a beautiful day at the beach, we take pictures to permanently capture an experience that words cannot express. Thanks to photo sharing sites like Flickr, our photos are no longer limited to an album that is open once every five years. Now when a picture is posted on Flickr, it has the ability to connect with a person in another state or even continent.
While some people believe Twitter is nothing more than an update on what you’re having for breakfast, Twitter has proven to be so much more. Some see it as a quick snapshot of a brief fading thought – others see a connection. On Twitter, you can have a pure moment of “ditto” with someone across the globe. Twitter has the power to connect millions of people at once on a trending topic and has permanently redefined how we view world events, news and daily life.
Diaries and journals used to be treasured as one of our most private and personal possessions. Historic journals are a primary source about the past, as well as a firsthand of view of life during moments of amazement and horror. Today, we no longer have to wait for years to pass by to get inside the mind (and in some cases the kitchen) of our global community. Blogging has become a phenomenon in itself, as conferences, awards and careers have evolved solely around blogging and the platforms that make it possible. Even more incredible, personal archives document children’s lives, memorable meals, and all of life’s ups and downs. Blogs connect us in a way that was previously unimaginable. The act of fostering friendships has evolved and even marriages have developed via the power of online connections through words.
What’s your favorite digital memory source?
Image Credit: Quim Gil