If you’re reading this in blog format, you’re probably a computer user. However, there are generations of people with tons of memories that should be preserved who aren’t comfortable with the digital age. You probably know and love one.
In fact, individual comfort levels with the digital devices vary greatly. Teens and tweens, for example, view computers, smart phones, and social networking as an integral part of life—a completely intuitive way of relating to the world. Others, like me, are tech savvy, but started out categorizing such devices as tools, much like the telephone. We’ve come to use them seamlessly, but we use them because they connect us and get our work done. People who were introduced to computers at an advanced age often are less at ease with them, using them almost grudgingly, out of necessity or to keep up. Still others shun them.
Your—or your loved one’s—facility with computers and digital archiving is important to consider when writing about and deciding to “go digital”—or not.
If you’re not sure, ask a couple of basic questions. (You can ask them to yourself or to your loved one if you’re encouraging them to document their memories.) Do you find word-processing programs to be your most efficient way of putting words to paper? Do you like the convenience of editing, sorting, cutting, and pasting? Do you find paperless files easier to organize? Do you have a readily available (working) laptop, tablet, or computer? (This one can be a deal breaker.)
If the answers were more along the lines of “Perish the thought!” or if the questions themselves filled you or your loved one with distaste, remember that digital media isn’t necessary in order to write. It’s simply an option. People write best when they’re comfortable with their tools.
If you love the feel of pen and paper, there is no need to go high tech. Find a notebook or attractive journal and just get started. Handwritten words are getting to be more and more of a treasure. In fact, the handwriting of a loved one can evoke strong emotions and facilitate connections. If you write legibly, your family will almost certainly enjoy, even treasure, seeing your hand. The “if,” however, is critical; you must write legibly.
This is a lesson my family learned the hard way. My grandmother’s handwriting was beyond illegible. In fact, her handwriting—the term itself is perhaps generous—was self-taught and looked more like a toddler’s imitation of cursive. If not for my mother’s ability to decipher and her determination to record my grandmother’s writings for the rest of us, my Grandma’s whole “Treasure Chest” might have been lost to us.
Though my mother typed Grandma’s memories, she annotated many in her own hand. Somehow, my mother’s handwriting embodies her personality. When I look at it, my heart inevitably experiences a tug.
So, regardless of whether you want to use pen and paper, typewriter, computer, tablet, or blog, the important thing is to simply write down those stories.