The title of this post is something I occasionally think about. It’s something that I usually ponder when I spend my time exploring the past, may it be mine or someone else’s. What will the future think of us? Now, I’m not just talking about the actions we make in the present while we’re alive nor am I just talking about the next 100 years. I’m talking the next 200, 300 years. Even past that. I’m talking about the kind of conclusions they’ll come to about our lives. I’m sure a lot of people don’t think about this and I’m many who even encounter this question dismiss it, as we have “modern technology” with our computers and our internet, it feels like we might just have the best archiving system yet in comparison to our ancestors!
Yet…are we sure that our computers are going to survive past this digital age? Are we sure the Internet is still going to be around in 200 years from now, when all of us reading this are dead? If we are, we shouldn’t be. How do we not know that something better than the Internet is going to come along, that functions similar to it, but is more secure, more private, faster? Something that allows us to do things that we can’t even currently imagine? Or how do we not know the governments and corporations of the world get an even strong hold on our lives and eventually destroy the Internet, the former’s creation? Or 10,000 years from now, the human race has become extinct, replaced by another intelligent species who finds our old computers and things, just like we had from people who lived 5,000 years in the past? We don’t know. Even though we don’t know, that shouldn’t mean that we shouldn’t be documenting our present in such a way that will make the future go “wow, look at those years – they suck” or “wow, those years were awesome”.
Preferably the former. Simply because the world sucks and we should probably stop romanticizing it. We even romanticize modern, current events, not just the past.
Sometimes I want to start writing a journal, documenting the way people interact with each other and what they wear. Some of this is so I can improve my own writing and characterization, while another part of it feels like it’d be strangely vital to the study of humans. I know that seems silly – vital. Like doing such a thing is super important. I guess that even if it didn’t really help with any sort of scientific study of humans, it would be one of those things that if the future found it, they could dip into the daily lives of the past.
I read a memoir by my great-great grandmother (I think that’s what I should call her? She’s my grandfather’s mother’s mother), which had been translated from Polish into English. I do believe the memoir started around the 1880s, with her talking about her childhood – which mostly consisted with helping with household chores, like chasing chickens! I snickered when I read that, as our modern childhoods don’t generally consists of doing such things. Our modern childhoods contain memories like sitting down every morning to watch a series of cartoons back to back until our parents told us to shut off the TV or – even more modern, like, you were born in the 2000s – playing Angry Birds on your iPhone. The memoir itself was an interesting reading, but it brings up what I’m talking about – a glimpse into a past. A version that, to me, isn’t really romanticized (or at least, not enough to not make me not want to punch her husband). Something I wish we had more of such a thing and, more over, were forced into reading.
I guess bottom line…we should probably start documenting our lives in a more efficient manner, giving the future a chance to see our time more accurately. Something of extensive reference so that the future can gawk at our past, either for its stupidity, for its brilliance, or both.