I have to admit, I have been thinking about this blog post for weeks. It started when Dr. Kernodle was at Mary Baldwin as a guest speaker. Now, her topic isn’t at all connected with this blog post, but one of the stories she told simply made me think, and now write this blog post.
It was right when she told us about a recent finding. One of the musicals belonging to Langston Hughes had been missing an orchestra part. After dozens of years, someone had finally found the original score inside a house in 2018. This, if you ask me, is a mind-blowing thing: us being able to bring back things from the past simply by searching.
But I don’t think it’s only a musical that has been saved from the cruel hands of time. If we think about all the things that have been found over the course of, let’s say, a hundred years, we will come across an overwhelming amount of pictures and letters and pieces of paperwork. But aren’t these types of random and maybe worthless things that told us so much about Shakespeare’s life, let us see how the wars were, learn how people lived in the past, uncover historical questions, and most importantly, learn about humanity itself?
If so, I have a question for all of us. What are we doing? How is a historian researching, let’s say, the life of one of us or even a curious kid in school going to learn about our life in a hundred years. Are they going to have to hack into the clouds we store our millions of photos in? Will they have to uncover the mysteries of social media apps that will most likely lose all their glory by then? Or will we just fade, simply forgotten, through the same hands of time that we had to fight?
We don’t leave evidence behind us anymore. It’s like being incognito but throughout your entire life instead of your internet search. We come to earth, live a life, give all the evidence to technology, and just leave.
However, there is also the question of what we would leave behind. I’m pretty sure a historian working in a hundred years wouldn’t be interested in one of our filtered selfies we uploaded to some social media platform or the thousands of photos we took in our lifetime that we don’t even look back at after a year. Surely, maybe one of us will be a famous poet or an author, but do we really want them to find our love and pain through text messages instead of an old and worn-out letter?
Essentially, what I’m saying is that we don’t live. Surely, we have years of memories and laughter, but do we really need to leave them on a social media app with a background sound instead of on a journal or a letter? Maybe times have changed, but we don’t have to erase all our lives and lose all the meaning in some way, do we?