Our Primary Documents and the Digital Age

Around my house, stored in nooks, boxes, caches, and crannies, sit decades of dragon-like mounds of paper: photographs, old love letters, mementos, the ephemera of a lifetime. I don’t lose things, either, by and large: we’re still searching for the Pokemon card binder, and an autographed Superman doll (signed by astronomer David H. Levy) Oh, and my great-grandmother’s pearl necklace I borrowed, but that is long gone. Okay, so maybe I do lose some important artifacts. But one lie I’ve been sold as a digital explorer from its early days is that the ‘internet is forever.’

Nothing is forever.

A billionaire “bought” a digital space that I’ve been on since 2009. I never garnered more than 5K followers and plateaued at around 4,700. And when I say “bought,” I mean I sense it’s all Monopoly money — fake, just numbers on a screen somewhere, financed by other billionaires and shady nations to decimate and destroy a democratized platform. We, those of us who are not billionaires, are the ones who made them the billionaires and gave away our power, our histories, to their control and whims.

And our human brains–why do we focus on the negative? Oh, I know why, but also — why? Or rather, how do we rewire our stories, our narratives, to gather the good and wholesome? Some of my happiest, chock-full-of-goodness moments occurred when some of my favorites followed me back. I felt included, invited, and smart.

Some of my worst moments happened when I was invited, and then disinvited. Sharply. Rebuked. Ghosted.

But that is life. And our lives we shared in that space– we met one another, shared heartbreak, grief, joy, victories, a whole manner of digital thoughts, and ideas, and gave space. But none of that can go in a box, or pulled out in an album when one megalomaniac uses his vast fortune to burn down our words, our lives.

Chaos agents are burning it down.

Just to see it burn…

It’s not our personal stories. It’s our global story.

And maybe I’m taking the bird’s eye view (cliche intended) –our little primary documents, our archives of our lives, are small and precious only to us. Those in power, historically, seem only capable of manipulating historical narratives to their advantage and narcissism. Control of information is control of the world, or so they imagine. How do we fight back?

Keep sharing your stories. Keep writing your stories. We are the storytellers, and we are the gifts to one another, and the history keepers.

Now, off to go do something else and try to keep my stories safe. I can wrap them in tissue packing boxes. And keep matches of billionaires away from them.

Photograph of dog ornament on a yuletide tree with red beads

And damn, where is that charm bracelet?

Featured Image: Edith Rimmington ~ The Oneiroscopist, 1947