In the past there have been occasions when all of us would like to hide away literally disappear for a while in fact sometimes disappear completely – then there are other times when we would quite like to be remembered a bit sometimes by family sometimes by friends sometimes by no-one in particular. But being remembered can be quite nice. It can mean the difference between having existed or not at all. They say in sales terms often the only difference between successfully winning business and losing business is being remembered first.
That said I have been looking at all the material both being published and being broadcast in the media on what was known as “The Great War” the one that our Grandparents or Great Grandparents started just over 100 years ago. Through all this history nothing hits home like some of the inspiring images that have been unearthed of disheveled, hungry and exhausted men (mainly men) in khaki rags that communicate something of the moment to us over 100 years later.
Something worrying struck me as I looked at images of long gone people who I never met, were unlikely to have met and had lives and families that are also long gone. In fact the only thing left was that careworn image somehow saved for posterity and in the public domain. With notes written on the back, which was the norm on photos (these days called tagging) we have a chance of drawing back the years and gaining an insight into who these people were and what, if anything, became of them.
Now we have a whole generation whose photo-images are hidden from view or are carefully choreographed into seductive juveniles looking wistfully into the camera in the vain hope of becoming “famous” these self styled selfies are little more than indicative of a self indulgent generation that is more focused on themselves than on the heritage that the past has to teach.
With the abundance of smart phones with cameras we have all created a profusion of useless gigabytes of indulgent rubbish which we clearly scared to delete just in case we need them. This is all okay except for one thing – that is access to the majority of any historically significant shots is going to be behind an encrypted password that with one flash of electrical impulse could be lost forever.
In one hundred years time when our ancestors choose to look over their shoulders are they going to find a treasure trove of unforgettable images or are they going to be looking at a blank wall? I’m guessing not.