Confession: When I was growing up, I had a major crush on Indiana Jones. Not Harrison Ford, the actor who starred in these, and other, blockbuster hits. Indiana Jones: The lasso-wielding, fedora-wearing, ophidiophobic hunk who would crawl into exotic caves in his quest for archaeological treasures.
I would daydream of joining him on his adventures, traveling to remote parts of the world and excavating dusty mountains with the hope of quenching my thirst for knowledge. Risking my life for the moment when I’d dust off a cave wall and discover hieroglyphics that revealed mysteries of the past.
Now that I’m a bit older, I realize that some elements of the Indiana tales are a bit far-fetched (especially the last one… aliens? Really?). However, my fascination with uncovering history hasn’t died. With the advent of social media, however, we’ve made it much easier for the work of future historians by painstakingly chronicling our own lives.
Intel recently released The Museum of Me, which links to one’s Facebook account, and provides a virtual tour of your digital life record. In 2010, the Library of Congress acquired the rights to the entire Twitter archives… yes, all billions of them.
With all of the self-documentation that we’re posting to the public, future historians’ work will be cake. Instead of tunneling through caves, they can simply click a button. Instead of translating dead languages, they just need a cheat sheet of text message shorthand (HITAKS)
Now, we’ve all known for a while that all of our digital communication has been kept on record, selling these stats is how these companies have thrived.Yet, for some reason, people still haven’t grasped the permanence of their communication.
Historically, oral traditions were how fables were passed on through generations. Much like a version of the game “telephone,” with each re-telling, the facts are slightly altered. Now, one simply has to scroll back through their newsfeed to be reminded, word for word, of what was said.
This begs the question: why aren’t we being more careful? Why aren’t we able to self-edit? Won’t we regret trash-talking a friend after the argument has been resolved? Or worse, share intimate pictures of ourselves? (cough, Anthony Weiner, cough).
Maybe one day we’ll grasp the permanence of our digital lives. Maybe we’ll start regulating what we communicate to the world. Or, maybe we’ll embrace the fact that a record of our entire lives will be stored in the cloud for generations to come. Either way, the future Indys of the world will have a much tamer occupation. Here’s hoping they keep wearing those fedoras.