Many of us enjoy sharing those special moments on Facebook … an overseas adventure, an incredible meal, a horrible deed undertaken by your child, appreciation of a loved one, the cat spinning around on an automatic vacuum cleaner, or a divine new recipe featuring acai, kale and quinoa. But have you considered how it could be used for something more?
My mother suffers from dementia. For the last few years, she’s lived in a high care home in New Zealand. I get over there to visit her 3-4 times each year and with each visit, she’s lost a little more of her memory and personality. There’s very little memory left now but you can still occasionally trigger a little spark when looking at photos, or talking to her about some little thing from the past.
For example, because one can never be sure if she remembers you, my dad asked her recently “hello, what’s my name?” “Goodness” Mum replies “you really should know that by now …”.
There are times when I’d love to have all her memories in one place – all the special things that meant something to her, read her dry witty comments, look at photos that gave her pleasure, explore examples of her beautiful knitting, crochet, embroidery and ceramics. Mostly I’d just love to find out what made her tick because, over the years, I’ve forgotten. Or I never knew.
While most of the time I’m grateful that Facebook didn’t exist during my young years (dread to think what seriously embarrassing stuff I’d have posted), there’s many times when I wish the internet, digital cameras and Facebook had been around when I was 14, 21, 30 years old.
Why is this? Because over the years, and after one particularly scarring relationship, I’ve forgotten who I was way back when. And because of that relationship, I have very little left to show for it in the way of photos and memorabilia. It’d be really interesting to look back and get a view of what I was thinking, what was I interested in, what did I do with my time, what did I look like, who were my friends and what made them tick, and on what planet was my brain at any given moment?
This lack of memories got me thinking. Actually … worrying mostly. What if I get dementia? Why can’t I remember what I did yesterday? Do I have it already?
Even if I do all the things the “experts” say to prevent this poxy disease, I suspect that if my mother copped it, and her mother copped it, then there’s a good likelihood I’ll cop it too.
SO, WHAT ELSE?
These days I use Facebook for something different. It’s become my “future proofing” – a memory album for the future, in case dementia starts tearing away and destroying the pathways to memories in my brain.
I take comfort that should I end up in high care in the far flung future, my ol’ chap will be able to display my Facebook feed on an iPad 127 and share memories of things I’ve posted. He’ll probably get a surprise too, because not being a Facebook user and indeed slagging it at every opportunity, he doesn’t know the half of what I’ve posted on there.
So instead of denigrating Facebook or seeing it as a skitefest by your friends, perhaps try seeing it as an opportunity to stack away those memories for the future.
Why not show everyone your personality, express what matters to you (including religion and politics), post lots of cat videos, and ensure there’s heaps of photos and anecdotes about your parents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and friends.
Sure beats having nothing to show at the end of it all!