A Writer's 21st Century Memoir.

The Digital Footprint You Leave Behind

blogging-computer-desk-34658When I was a child, I became obsessed with the idea of leaving behind a piece of my life after my death. I thought seriously about time capsules, taking ample amounts of photographs, and recording the major events of life while I was alive from my own perspective.

Too many trips to the library and a newfound love of pushing my nose into the insides of the “Dear America” books had made me believe that I could be like one of the lead fictional characters of those books who detailed incredible events that occurred throughout the course of history from their own viewpoint. And it was at the age of eleven that I had begun writing in a diary.

One of the first events that I recorded in my diary after receiving the blank wide-ruled diary with an obnoxiously bright blue fuzzy cover came just after the two World Trade Center Towers were struck by planes in a terrorist attack. I felt, in that moment of jotting down my thoughts and feels on 9/11, that my decision to keep a diary like the fictional children in the book series that I had come to love was the right choice. How else was I going to look back on the important times in my life?

Then came the birth of social networking and blogging.

Photos, thoughts, feelings, shared messages, and a way to keep everything all in one place for you and all your friends and loved ones to see have emerged from behind bright screens. The ability to publicly record yourself on a digital diary, something unfathomable to eleven-year-old me, became an integral part of modern existence.

There are so many people out there today expressing themselves through writing. Much of the world’s population who is privileged to have access to a computer has either written a blog or has read a blog article, and nearly everyone I run into nowadays has at least one social media account. They quickly jot down their feelings, document their experiences, and can share them with anyone instantly. They end up leaving a digital footprint long after they have stopped living.

Occasionally, I see a memory dredged up from the other ancient relics of statuses on Facebook that involves people who are no longer living. A post or a comment has been published again on my timeline as if the person who has passed has come back to life for a moment to share just one more update.

“On this day,” Facebook writes of someone who has now been gone for years. I can hear the Internet whisper through the saved messages from loved ones, remember this?

It makes me think of the day when my old statuses would pop again after I’m gone. Or when my abandoned Facebook page, kept up in memorial to me, would remind all my friends that my birthday has come and passed again without me to celebrate it. And then I think about my hardcopy journals and how they no longer pile up on the bookshelves in my room. Would anyone read what was left behind?

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