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One Day, You Will Meet Yourself

17 February 2012

My senior picture from my high school yearbook. Voted "Most Likely To Join a Somali Pirate Crew, 1996."

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been taking a look at my own past. It wasn’t my fault, really — I found some old blogs of mine and my buddy Nate’s. The odd thing is, one of us (sometimes both of us) have been continuously blogging since about September of 2003. Some of those blogs have vanished down the Great Internet Black Hole, but some are still around. Today’s image is actually a random image grab from a photoblog I did in 2008. I first started blogging about 10 years before that, in 1998, before “blog” was even a word — that blog has definitely been swallowed up by the Sands of Time, but even with the evidence that still remains, I find something interesting happening in my brain.

(Note: No, I’m not going to link the old blogs. Some of them aren’t mine, and some of them are — but the content isn’t pertinent to this story, and it’s fun to keep them, mostly, in my own brain.)

It’s an odd thing about living in the future that you have the opportunity to see so much of your own history. Sure, people kept journals before blogging, but if that one notebook got lost or misplaced in a move… gone. Some of my blogs, though, have managed to stay up, and I get to take a glimpse back at who I used to be. Thankfully, I’m not that guy anymore — he was about 215 pounds, and at 5’6″, that isn’t a good thing. What’s really strange is the times I pop up as a sort of secondary character on my pal Nate’s blog, whether through direct mention or a comment here and there — it’s like being a guest star in a sitcom you don’t remember being in.

Or, perhaps, an extra in an indie film no one saw. Just sayin'.

I kind of wonder what it’s like for people even younger than me, who have had this kind of technology for more of their lives. I was born in 1978, and the first time I saw anything resembling the Internet was probably 1991 or 1992. What about someone born in 1992? They’d be 20 now, and have had the Internet pretty much their entire lives. What must their personal history be like?

I joke about time travel on this blog all the time, but the fact is… well, we already sort of have it. We have a window onto our own past unlike any people in history before us — we can archive our memories out into the cloud, and even make them public if we so choose (and most bloggers do). Is this a good thing? Or is it dangerous to outsource our memories to the Internet? As it’s Friday, why not start a debate in the comments?

(Oh, another note: The first picture is Blackbeard’s Flag at the North Carolina Museum of History. The second was taken by my good pal Christopher Gronlund when I lent him a copy of a film I was in as a younger man. You should definitely be reading Christopher’s blog, if you’re not already.)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 February 2012 1127

    Every couple weeks, I get an urge to hit the archives of my old LiveJournal. I’ll pick a day–say 2/17–and see what happened in what year. And I remember things I may have forgotten…and I like that. Not that I’m going to throw a party or anything tomorrow, but because I wrote about it on LiveJournal, I know tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of finding out that I have a big ol’ pituitary tumor in my head. Some people might not want to remember that, but in reading the entry for 2/18, I realize how little I knew about what I was facing. I can see how I tried convincing myself that it was nothing. I can click the tag for “tumor” and read how it all progressed.

    Eight years later, I still know it’s up there, but I feel so much better. That entry serves as a reminder that when I have a crappy day at work or something, that it can be worse, but even worse isn’t always as bad as it initially seems.

    My iPhone also serves as a time machine. I’m not the best at always dumping photos and organizing them as well as some. So there comes a day my wife looks at my phone and says, “Do you realize you have over 1200 photos on your phone?!” and I dump them on my system. But looking at the photos, it’s a reminder of how much of my everyday life I feel is worth capturing as a memory. And a pattern evolves–I can see the things that make me happy: a drink or two on a Friday with my wife, nice meals, visiting friends and family, going for walks.

    Before…it’s not that I took these things for granted, but…it wasn’t so evident to me.

    I’m sure there are reasons we SHOULDN’T document things as much as we do. I keep my phone tucked away at dinner and during chats with friends…things like that. I have to think if an alien spacecraft landed and out came our first contact, while I’m sure I’d snap a photo or two, I’d want to experience it with my eyes…not through a tiny screen.

    Or…maybe I’d boot up my UStream app and share it with the world, even though I like to think I wouldn’t 😉

  2. 17 February 2012 1432

    I’ve kept a paper journal for nearly 30 years. (Not the same journal – a series of them.) And I’ve never gone back to read them. I’m afraid of the person I’ll find.

  3. Nate permalink
    17 February 2012 1443

    I’ve always had a certain level of nervousness about how permanent blog entries, status updates, etc. become once posted to the Web, but really it all comes down to common sense. My personal rule was to only refer to my work and employer in the most generic terms and protect the confidence of family and friends. It always served me well.

    (The rule was only loosely applied on the occasions when I made drunken, garbled posts, but fortunately, you were pretty much the only one who caught them. 🙂 )

  4. Nate permalink
    21 February 2012 0847

    Is that Tracey Bingham in the pic?

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