Do you keep a diary? I'm not sure I know anyone who does, unless it's one of those things that people just don't talk about.
People close to me know that I'm a huge history fan, WWII being a particular area of interest. I'm currently reading 'The Holocaust' by Laurence Rees which has been written using a combination of eyewitness testimony and academic research (it really is a fascinating book if you're interested.) As I bury myself into the pages, there's one thing that always strikes me as rather surprising; the vast number of diary entries and excerpts which are included in the book. Even more surprising is the number Nazi war criminals who wrote in and kept a diary; Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels being two notable Nazi figures who kept regular diaries both before and during the war.
I grew up in the 90's when diaries were definitely still a thing! I never kept a regular diary, but (for want of an interesting observation about my childhood) I would gravitate towards penning my feelings during times of tweenage despair. My diary from the first week of Year 7, for example, is an entertaining yet painful read. This was a time before you could do that much on the internet if you had access to it at all. Tomb Raider's PC game was about as digital as my life was in Year 7. Social media didn't really become a thing until I was about 15. That's when I got my first social media account; young indeed, but in those days, no one really pre-empted the monsters that social media was capable of creating. I don't think the monsters knew it of themselves back then. All in all, it was a fairly safe place to be in my experience. By today's standards, 15 would also be classed as old in social media terms.
Back to the diary. Is the way that one now uses social media similar to if one were to write in a diary throughout history? Sometimes people may share a little too much, but perhaps this serves as the same outlet as the diary did a hundred years ago. Yes, it's not private, but perhaps people aren't as private as they once were. Social media is a slow-cooked picture of a life, manifesting itself in many different forms. It'll be intriguing to observe the social footprint that my generation are left with in later life. What do you think? Has social media replaced the diary or do you think more people keep diaries than we know?
The great diarists offer us a secret history of their times. Jokes and rumours, hopes and fears: these intangibles would evaporate into thin air were it not for the diarists jotting them down. This fascinating anthology tracks the 20th century through diaries, journals and letters, though mainly diaries. At its best, it opens up secret peep-holes on to some of the key events of the century, and allows us to see them from unexpected angles. Take sick jokes, for instance. People tell them to each other, and then forget them with the passing of the days. These jokes are lost to historians, and therefore to history.