By: ALISON CHURCH
The importance of preserving everyday writing is becoming more relevant each day as an abundance of perspectives and thoughts are being shared through social media platforms, and less through physical writing. According to Joe Hewit whose database “Documenting the American South” (DAS) contains text of print publications, but also images, manuscript items, letters, and other artifacts. DAS is selected to emphasize social history and the stories and viewpoints of other people. Students have said they used DAS to discover their family history and have begun to “relate to the nations past” in ways that gave them a broader insight into their own lives. Not only is this beneficial for personal reasons, but it is also beneficial for educational purposes in school. This has shown that preserving texts from today will have an importance in the future for re-discovering the past, learning from our mistakes to avoid our tendency to repeat history, and gaining more insight on when times were different socially and politically.
Social media platforms have revolutionized the way we record and document thoughts and feelings through writing. It has made expressing ourselves to the world easy, accessible, and a powerful tool that can be harnessed for the better or for the worst. According to Gayle Osterberg, director of communications for the library of congress, “society turns to social media as a primary method of communication” and is replacing many mediums of communication of the past. Although this reveals a huge turning point in how document archiving is shifting in digital media, the importance of historical preservation should be kept alive. While it is time consuming to sift through many of the tweets and other forms of social media communication that exist now, the quality of its content overrides the quantity and is ultimately beneficial for future generations seeking a connection or further insight into the past.
However, this is not to say that everything should be kept and preserved indefinitely. Information overload has been relevant for some time now, with the rising digital age increasing information production by 30%. We cannot simply move forward by ditching all or preserving all information put out into the world. It is a careful process that must be done with care, for the sake of connecting ourselves to future generations yet to come.
Preserving both older media such as journals, books, and newspapers as well as modern media should be a priority, although it may seem less relevant now that digital media has taken over. With the passage of time we cannot forget to both learn from our past mistakes as people, and to observe and appreciate the beauty of thought and feeling from times in history that seem like fiction. Because we are living in what will seem like a far off fictional tale many centuries from now, we must strive to preserve our time so that expression is not lost, and all that could be harmful to us in the future is not swept under the rug. The past, present, and future are equally important because one becomes the other in an instant.