The Documented Life

Recently a young friend commented on her frustration with Facebook constantly changing its formats, making choosing the way we interface with its programming difficult. She wants better control over whose posts she sees and the frequency that she sees them. I agree with her that it’s annoying to be faced with “suggested posts” and “sponsored posts” in addition to have people’s posts hidden from me because I didn’t comment enough. Annoying. Obviously, Facebook isn’t interested in what we want it to do for us; Mr. Zuckerberg and his staff want to make money. I get that and I’m happy that Facebook is still free.

Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

She also said, “I know you really like it, but I don’t even check it every day now.” It struck me at the time that if her generation becomes disenchanted with the Facebook platform (and perhaps they already have), I will lose a valuable connection point in my life. She will move on, but there will come a time that I won’t be able to learn a new system. Facebook has opened up windows into the lives of friends and family members that I would never have, given our separation by age, distance, and interests. I am thankful that they let their sixty-something “friend” into their lives with such generosity. I will miss these connections when the world moves on to the next big thing.

Even as I post this graphic, it's becoming outdated.

This graphic is woefully outdated, and it’s only copywrited 2012. It’s a blazingly quick communication world.

I have been thinking about social media and why for some people it is a lifeline and a joy, and for others it feels like a chore and even invasive into their privacy. Why is it important to me to document my life in short posts and longer pieces of writing and photography? Why do I love Facebook and blogging?

Actually, I know exactly why. I spent my formative years in cemeteries and courthouses, researching family history, and that need for documentation runs deeply in my psyche. I knew that my parents would want headstones even though they made the choice to be cremated. My father put his genealogy books in libraries wherever they would take them. When he became proficient on the internet in his later years, he sent (sometimes unwelcome and annoying) emails to family members and friends sharing his faith and stories. He wanted to be remembered and he wanted his ancestors to be remembered as well. I guess this apple didn’t fall very far from that tree.

On the other side of the family, we have my husband’s Aunt Rachel. At 105 years of age, she isn’t as sharp either physically or mentally as she once was, but I don’t want to get into a genealogy trivia game with her. I would lose immediately. Without Aunt Rachel, we would have run the risk of losing valuable stories of our family. We know where people are buried, where their old farmhouses were and still are, and we know what they believed. Aunt Rachel documented the lives of many Mennonites in the United States and is still doing it. She doesn’t have a computer anymore, but she is the first one to love the photos and stories on Facebook of all the young people in the family. I wish I had a video to share to show her delight — it’s infectious.

Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

So, I plan to continue to stay current on Facebook and let people know I’m still alive. I’m going to the pool and working out and I’m eating fabulous food at cool restaurants. I’m traveling and I’m reading. I’m taking pictures and I’m writing about things that interest me, and I’m putting it all online. I’m staying flexible in mind and body, and I have pretty amazing shoes to fill. I don’t mind that everything I write will stay on the internet forever. Maybe I’ll be discovered someday. 🙂


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4 thoughts on “The Documented Life

  1. I agree! Facebook can be frustrating, as can all social media for those (like me!) who aren’t as techno savvy as others. In spite of those challenges, I continue to enjoy the free Facebook resource for connecting with my family, friends, and readers. With her vivacious energy at 105, imagine what a Facebook dynamo Aunt Rachel would have been in her younger years! She is an inspiration to never stop living and enjoying what you still can enjoy in life – until the day we actually die. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Love that! (Go, Aunt Rachel!)

  2. You hit the nail square on the head, Jennie! Facebook is a blessing and a curse. I love it because I’ve been able to reconnect with so many people who would have otherwise fallen through the proverbial cracks of my life. I love it because I can see what my son is up to without having to seem like the nosy Mom. I can share highs and lows on a whim. It’s like the diaries I kept as a teen and young adult, except this time around the photos are more vivid, there’s more space to share my feelings, and I don’t have to spend time trying to find the key! 🙂 The down side of FB, of course, is that it can be another platform for hatred, bigotry and ignorance. That part I DON’T like along with the part about not having 100% control over what I see and when. It’s a compromise, just like just about everything else in this life.

    Very interesting post, Jennie. I’m glad your Aunt Rachel is still a fountain of knowledge. Here’s hoping you will live to be your Aunt’s age so that you can continue that tradition.

  3. Great post, Jennie! I gave up my personal Facebook a few years ago for many reasons, one of which was the constant changing, and the changes were never in favor of the users’ privacy, it seemed. Also, I noticed no matter what people posted, others had a problem with it. “Don’t post about politics, don’t post about religion, don’t post about what you’re eating, don’t post about blah blah blah.” Well, what were you supposed to post about, then? I got tired of wondering if I was annoying someone every time I wrote something! Sometimes I miss it, though, but my blog gives me more than enough to keep up with. They say Facebook is losing users, and I think their greed is the reason, perhaps. Anyway, I enjoyed reading this, well-written as always! -Dawn

  4. Very well said Jennie!

    I think most people feel Facebook has pros and cons, just like most things in life. For me, the pros are I’ve connected with people that I’ve lost touch with over the years, most notably one of my very best friends from high school and for years beyond. That alone is worth the minor annoyances that I’ve encountered along the way. The cons are sometimes Facebook can cause hurt feelings, and just as it can make relationships stronger, it can tear them down just as quickly and easily.

    For about a year I posted on my blog Facebook page about three times a day, but it did little good so a few months ago I stopped and guess what…the world is still revolving and more importantly, MY world is still revolving.

    I rarely post on my personal page, but do enjoy checking in from time to time to see what some of my friends are up to.

    Thank you for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment today. I’ve enjoyed looking around your blog Jennie. You’re an excellent writer!

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