Pointless diaries: Great War Diaries

I’ve always wondered what is the reason why people blog. In some way, people have always blogged– from cave paintings, to paper diaries, to the online community as we know it today. We have autobiographies published and other people write up biographies about people that they admire. But why is this all so common, and why has it survived for so long?

One of the things that I find really interesting is how diaries and journals are being used to create a better understand of World War One. Like the current BBC series which finished tonight, Great War Diaries, which depicted the lives of people in different countries and of different ages and their personal accounts of the War. For those of you who have read Anne Frank (which unfortunately is still on my to-read list) I can definitely understand why it is such a popular read. But seeing it all on screen– with the voice overs reading out the passages– is heart breaking.

What I found even more interesting was when one of the authors, a German girl in school, stated that the only reason that she was keeping the diary was because they had been told to do one for school. With teachers forseeing a “glorious victory by Christmas” it reminds me of my own teachers telling us to keep summer diaries for English class.

I don’t imagine an historian dusting one of those folders off in a 100 years!

Continuing with the theme of WW1, the Manx National Heritage group recently discovered diaries written by a local vicar during that period. But what was even more significant was that these hand written note pads were used to keep track of each man from his congregation who was abroad. Apparently he colour coded each of the entries so he was up to date with the individual’s location and status– presumably to pass on to the rest of his church for their prayers. But I assume that this man did not write these entries for the purpose of having them used 100 years later.

Personally I keep a personal diary, handwritten and hidden safely away from prying eyes, as well as this online blog– and yes, be assured that I don’t manage to keep either one regularly updated until motivation comes along! But I don’t see either as particularly significant. My personal diary is more of my random rantings whenever the mood takes me, which I find calms me down if I’m in an especially bad mood– but I highly doubt that’ll change over the next centenary!

What’s even stranger is the idea of online blogging being seen as historic the way that many younger children will now see pen and paper. Everything is done online nowadays, to the point that we are even entrusting our lives to computerised cars, so how far away is having some sort of device which records our day to day activities? I’m thinking a Black Mirror type chip in our head, but even the fact that many of us rely on our computers and smart phones for 90 per cent of our activities– will there be much point in a diary when we’re so comfortable writing everything on social media?

And given that anything on the internet never really disappears, I doubt there’ll be much point in whatever the future version of an archeologist digging around…

So if in essence our diaries and blogs are little use to future generations, do we write them for the here and now? For our own personal thoughts? Or just because that is what everyone else is doing?


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