In praise of paper Part 1. Or, burn the diaries


You need to start a journal. Now.

If you have paper diaries, edit them. Do a quick research fact raid for what was going on in the world at the time of each entry. Think hard about what you know is important for posterity to understand about life, and your life – even the painful embarrassing stuff.

Do it.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Some reasons for my sense that this is imperative, in no particular order, as all seem quite pressing:

  1. When the grid goes dark, who’s gonna be checking your Instagram? Who’s gonna be liking your facebook posts? Your WordPress blog? (uh oh)
  2. Even if the grid does not go dark, are your kids and grandkids going to be able to access your instagram or facebook, those many-terabyte backup drives, those dvd’s of family movies and photos you spent so much time and money sorting out?
  3. Your thoughts on events –  home, community, state, national, global- they are personal and relevant in a way that social media has ceased to be relevant.

Social media is now so hopelessly entangled with ads, fraudulent bot accounts, sheer volume of words words words… and let’s not even go there regarding the imaginary beasts we once called privacy and respectful discourse, or the meaningless, time consuming arguments we have over politics, racism, genderism… social media is great for getting simple messages out there- meet at this time for this purpose. Check out this article / meme / event. Beyond that… what a time waster. It reminds me of printing one’s own money and declaring oneself rich rich RICH.

Here are the examples that pushed me over the edge though.

Did you read The Little House Books? I know they are not diaries. I know they are fictionalized. But here’s the thing. They describe an epoch and a lifeway that would be lost if someone hadn’t written it down. I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for my obsession with survival skills, cast iron, and shelf paper.

And I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so use it as an example and don’t take it as proselytizing or attacking please?

All the current medical studies in the world did not convince me that hospital birth was more dangerous than home birth, preferably with a trained licensed legal midwife (you know, like those insane socialist countries that also give paid parental leave? OOOPS my bias is showing.)

You know what did?  A Midwife’s Tale: A Life of Martha Ballard Based on her Diary 1785-1812.

Your scribbles, bellyaches, angst, selfies, anxieties, anger, joy, hope, photos or drawings here and there- they will be priceless one day. They might be priceless to a distant relative – great grandkid or niece/nephew. That alone is good enough.

But what if, like Martha Ballard, your diary has a truly important and much broader picture?

In either case it would totally suck if posterity never even has the option because you are too busy with instagram twitter facebook snapchat…

You think you are just living your insignificant little life, doing your insignificant little thing, trying to get food on the table and keep a roof over your family’s head, or save up for retirement or just have fun. But it is more. It is so much more. I promise you.


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