Social Media; Key for heritage and social history

Some years ago, volunteers in the village where the Badger grew up created a Facebook ‘nostalgia’ group to share heritage information, reminiscences and photographs about the village and its community. It has a large membership and the volunteers do a great job maintaining the site’s focus and content. This week there was a post with a black and white photo the Badger had never seen before but instantly recognised the people in it. The photo, taken in the 1960s, was of a bunch of 8 to 12-year old children, the Badger’s friends and playmates of the time!

Memories came flooding back. Our ‘gang’ had great fun. Our parents let us out in the morning, and we played outdoors in the fresh air all day, only returning at mealtimes. We climbed trees and built dens in the woods, played ‘Cowboys and Indians’, hide and seek, hopscotch, skipping, football and cricket, and rode rickety bikes. Halcyon days! Families eventually moved and we all grew up, losing touch in the process. The photo, however, triggered a spurt of additional posts that showed the ‘gang’ are alive and kicking, all be it widely spread geographically. And most of us are members of the village nostalgia group!

The photo provided an instant reminder of just how different life is for today’s children. The photo’s in black and white because that was the norm for a time when the family camera was used mainly for special occasions or events. Back then television was black and white, a household telephone was a luxury, and roads were not clogged with cars. We made our own fun outdoors and considered the cuts and bruises from our adventures to be badges of honour. Photos like this one tended to be consigned to the family album and were rarely widely shared. They come to light – as this one has – when parents have passed away, and someone shares them using today’s technology so they can become an accessible part of the Badger generation’s social history!

In 50-years’ time, when today’s children look back at their own social history, they’ll have a rich tapestry of text, digital photos, sounds, and videos captured as they happened and readily stored for posterity in the cloud. Their generation’s social history will be comprehensive, much more accessible, and they’ll be able to see, hear, and re-live their own halcyon days at the press of a button. Will they be interested in that strange time immediately before the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, personal computers, games consoles, smart devices, digital photography, wearable tech, and global communication enabling the instant sharing of opinions, concerns and content? The Badger hopes so, because looking at history and its social artefacts helps to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Finally, a thank you to Facebook – for once. The village’s heritage would be less accessible without it and the Badger’s ‘gang’ would be lost forever.

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