Most of you will know Twitter recently changed their settings, to allow us to have header pictures and background pictures, and change the look of our home pages. Many of the comments I read at the time were something along the lines of “Why is Twitter trying to copy Facebook?”
It was as if Twitter was trying to become Facebook – as if it were a rival.
But I don’t see Twitter and Facebook as competitors. The two major Social Network sites play very different roles.
Someone said once Twitter is like a dinner-party, an ongoing conversation, all about the now. Facebook is much more where we’ve been, who we are, almost a platform where we store our identity whilst our life goes on, a place we check in with each other.
But although both Twitter and Facebook have different roles, in one sense they are playing out two parts of our stories.
They are venues our story is expressed or reported, and even in some senses, actually takes place.
Which brings us onto story.
Our life stories are in large part now being told online. The timeline which we see on Facebook is the very real, digital expression of something happening on a bigger scale in the digital realm – on blogs, social media, even major news websites and even Wikipedia – history is now being told online.
Including our own.
As time goes on and timelines get longer, we will begin to see people’s entire lives literally told from start to finish online – and it will stand as a record after their death of the life they lived – or at least the life people saw them live.
I absolutely love this idea. The concept of leaving a digital legacy behind to your descendants, to friends – like the person who recently left a mobile scanning code on their tombstone for people to link to a website about their life. It allows us to have an impact beyond our earthly life – and above all, its something we can have a large degree of control over too – because we can create this world now.
But for all the amazing benefits of digital legacy, there are things they cannot replicate.
Memories. Experiences. Emotions. Ones unique, personal, and intimate.
A wedding night.
The emotion parents feel when their child is born.
The pain of loss.
The experience of spontaneous joy.
Then there are the truly unique experiences – the times in I had with my Mum watching and laughing at the TV – just me and her.
The late night chats with my best mate where we stayed up nearly all night because time passed so quickly.
The experience of the Holy Spirit I had at a U2 concert in Cardiff.
The are the type of memories which can’t truly be captured on photos, video or any kind of written or spoken word. Not in the same way.
Those experiences and memories will stay with each of us for our lifetime – and die with us.
Twitter and Facebook both tell and hold our stories on record, they are a way of sharing our stories with the world. Stories that at the very least our families and friends will want to engage with even after we are gone – and it’s an amazing thing. It allows us to live on in ways we weren’t able to before.
But there are some memories which will be ours and ours alone. Which no one else can ever know.
Parts of our lives almost no one else will, nor should see -
and they are just as precious – if not more so.
Because if our whole lives are displayed online, then have we have a true, complete life? Have we had real intimacy?
What do you think?