I had a discussion with my wife about social networking sites and blogging. She astutely pointed out that once something goes online it’s there forever, for all to see. This brought up a good point, something that’s been in the back of my mind since I started blogging five years ago.
Michael Keaton made a movie once (My Life, 1993) where he played the father of an unborn son. Keaton's character was diagnosed with a terminal disease and therefor he was not going to be around to raise his son. In the movie Keaton makes stacks of videotapes for his son, imparting fatherly wisdom, and just talking to the camera so that his son could, in the future, get to know his father. I remember one scene where Keaton is giving an on-camera class on how to shave. I found it a terribly sad movie, but it has always stuck with me.
As my wife pointed out, our online presence is forever. If something were to happen to me my three sons would, in the future, be able to read about my thoughts, adventures, failings and victories, essentially my life. Furthermore, through my photographs on this blog as well as Flickr they would be able to see what their father had seen, what had caught his eye at that moment.
When I as growing up we had a family photo album with a handful of black and white photos of my parents before I was born, and some of me up through preschool. That's all I had, nothing more, but I would wade through that album time and again. Imagine now the wealth of information that will be accessible if something was to happen, or better yet if nothing were to happen at all. My sons have hundreds of posts and stories that I’ve put up over the years on a separate family blog, as well as this and other online sites. That will be something that they can value for the rest of their lives, and the lives of their children and grandchildren.