Social Media: Real-time Family History in the First Person

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By Steven and Jill Decker

Never has so much first-person family history been contributed by so many - and most do not even realize they are doing it. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets are forces that can be utilized to document and share a family’s history in the here and now. They are modern methods to journal our activities and, unlike handwritten diaries and journals, they are accessible to multiple “friends” or “followers” at the same time. Often the history is accompanied by photographs.

Here are some recent social media subjects for our family:

  • A trip to Bryce Canyon National Park and other vacations.
  • A family member and coach commented about his association with student-athletes and about his association with the Tour of Utah.
  • The preparation for our niece's wedding.
  • Thankfulness that a recent cranial surgery on an infant went well.
  • Political views.
  • Religious views.
  • Bucket lists.
  • Birthday wishes.
  • Insights to senses of humor.

You can see the rich and varied story that is told through these simple, one-off posts.
Of course, social media is not without its issues when it comes to sharing family history. Not every social media claim is accurate: users may use profile pictures of heroes or loved ones rather than themselves or, for whatever reason, may say they are from a place to which they have never been. That said, imagine how many events and special occasions would pass unnoticed by large numbers of family and friends without social posts. Social media can be a great way to share family memories and instill a real sense of belonging among today’s spread-out families.

Here are some ideas and resources that can help you create your own social media strategy for family history:

 

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