Saturday, March 01, 2014

Sharing memories

Sharing memories is central to family history, and I suppose that is one of the reasons for keeping a family history blog. Here's a blog post that gives some good reasons for sharing memories, and shos that it doesn't have to be complicated: Your Memories: 5 More Reasons to Share - Treasure Chest of Memories:
You don’t have to write a life story. A memory can be a moment. You can journal your memories or write about individual episodes of your past. You can simply provide a narrative of your memories on a scrapbook page.
In addition to the reasons given in that article, I can think of a few more. One can share memories of good times, but one can also share memories of bad times. One of my memories is of a song, "Even the bad times were good", and that can be said of some of the memories I've recorded in a series of blog posts called Tales from Dystopia | Khanya -- about life in the apartheid era in South Africa. In the introduction I have some of the reasons for recording some of those memories, and I also tried to encourage others to record some of their memories of that period too.

Some share memories on Facebook, and indeed there are some pages and groups on Facebook that are deliberately designed for the sharing of memories. I recently joined one such group called We grew up in Orange Grove Johannesburg, and I am a member of another one called Who lived/s in MELMOTH?

But the trouble with Facebook groups is that they are ephemeral, and it is difficult to find things in them again. Also, you have to be a member of Facebook to see stuff there.

A better way of dealing with such things is to write a blog post about them, and then post a link to the blog post on the Facebook group. The Facebook group shares the memories immediately, but the blog post will last longer, and people will be ab le to find it with search engines and so on.

But even a blog post won't last forever -- if you have a self-hosted (paid) blog, then when you die, or lose interest, unless someone is sufficiently interested to go on paying for it, everything you posted there will disappear pretty quickly. Free blog sites (like this one, for instance) may last a bit longer. There are probably plenty of blogs hosted by Blogger (Blogspot) where the authors have died. One example was Hugh Watkins, a well-known genealogy blogger, whose last post rather poignantly tells that he was going to hospital, where he died. But Google, who own Blogspot, won't last forever either,  and blog hosting sites can die too, so it's best to keep a copy on your computer too.

You can even record other people's memories, in a sense, and stories they told. For example, my wife retired yesterday, and so I wrote a blog post about my memories of her career. That may be of interest to our children one day, even if to no one else.

I remember watching a TV series a few years ago, The Human Footprint, which, among other statistics, mentioned that the average person gets to know about 1750 other people in the course of their life. That inspired me start making a list of people I have known, and what I can remember about them -- friends, acquaintances, teachers, bosses, relatives, work colleagues and even enemies. Sometimes people e-mail me their memories too and I add those, and sometimes there are on-line or published obituaries.

One way I tried to collect family memories, which has been rather unsuccessful so far, is a family history wiki.  That is the ideal tool for such things, but one of my experiences of computer communications is that people are rarely willing to use the best tools for the job, and are more likely to choose inappropriate ones, like Facebook, for such purposes.

And there is also hard copy.

One of the sadder reasons for collecting memories is, for example, children whose parents have Aids, or some other terminal illness, and are likely to die of the disease. New drugs have helped to prolong the life of Aids patients, but the disease is still incurable, and one of the things people have done is to make "memory boxes", in which they collect stories, pictures etc from their and their  childrens lives, so that the children can have them when the parents are no longer there.

Memory boxes are not just for Aids patients either. I knew one family where they had tape recordings of the father telling stories to his children, and then he was killed in a car accident, and that recording became one of the most precious possessions of the children.