“The Future of History”
As I was on the train this morning scrolling through my feeds of news, a very interesting thought came across my mind and that is how we are creating history for the future generation, especially in the age of social media.
If we ever look back at how things were documented in history books, it was primarily by three ways: word of mouth, transcribing through notes, and finally photographs (usually film). Now in the age of social media, we are essentially “lifecasting” or able to give full on timelines of our existence through these various means. Twitter allows us to give day to day updates that outside biographers and scribes could not achieve in the past. There is a flaw in this however and that it is curated by ourselves; we choose what we want to place out for the world to see.
Cruising on new-site The Root, they posted a very interesting story on a Marine that came home and hugged and kissed his boyfriend. A passerby, I believe, immediately snapped a photograph and posted the image up to Facebook. While flipping through the comments, someone mentioned to the passerby that “you captured a very iconic moment, and you have the full rights to this image.” While I think that photograph is indeed a strong progressive mile marker in the advancement of our society, it gained traction and notoriety through the power of viral sharing. The photograph was taken on a smartphone and shared to a social networking site. Is this how iconic moments in history are going to be remembered? Will this image be printed in history books underneath the section of “The New Civil Rights movement?”
Think about all the changes and historic memories that have happened within the social networking era, or the era of “Millenials.” The Occupy movement, the riots in the middle East, the election of the first Black president. Many of the historical mile markers have been documented and followed through social media. We have all become journalists in our own way and created content for future historians to pull and share.
Above is a photograph I took at the Occupy movement in Chicago. It may not be the best photograph, but it’s an insight into a historical moment in time, taken by not a journalist but an everyday citizen.