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Brave new world: Using Facebook to preserve old memories with family and friends

By Jesse Stay

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Nov. 30 2012 5:20 p.m. MST

Submitting life events through Facebook Timeline can help you reunite with old friends and loved ones.

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"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

This quote from Robert Munsch's book, "Love You Forever," signifies the timeline of life and its journey from a mother rocking her son in his cradle to later years when we find the son rocking his mother during her dying years. The son then passes on his traditions to his newborn daughter, rocking her at the end of the book, singing, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be." And thus starts the cycle again.

When I was growing up we passed on stories and traditions socially through word-of-mouth interactions. I still remember as a child my grandfather reading this book, with my grandmother at his side, and there was not a dry eye in the room as my grandmother spent her last days suffering from cancer. These memories will forever stick in my mind.

But until recently they were just that — memories.

In the last couple weeks I've grown to really appreciate the power of Facebook Timeline to bring back these memories and make them real again. Two weeks ago I ordered a negative and slide scanner and paid my 11-year-old daughter (she's saving for summer camp) to scan in a whole bunch of negatives and pictures I had long been saving for a day I could finally digitize them.

In the past I would have just digitized them, stored them on a hard drive somewhere, and forgotten about them, which was no different than the times of my parents and grandparents, when they would take prints and store them in photo albums. I still have many photos from my grandparents and ancestors with no description, no explanation, no stories, dates, times or places attached to them. Without that information, those pictures are just pictures. For a descendant like me those memories have been forgotten, other than a picture of my progenitors when they were younger.

Uploading my photos this time was different though. I decided as I was uploading my photos that I'd upload the photos to Facebook and tag the people I knew were in the photos. For most of the photos I didn't have a date or time of the photo. Some of them I didn't even know where I took them.

However, as I uploaded these and started tagging friends, something wonderful happened. As my friends saw these memories of old (some to their own chagrin) they started tagging their own friends. We started conversations in the comments about what was happening in the photos. We started recollecting dates, places and times.

We started remembering again.

There was one photo with a couple of my cousins in it. I shot it as a young kid with cheap film in a point-and-shoot camera, and some of them were making silly faces. It was fun recollecting where we were, and even who some of the cousins were. We tagged a few people and soon I realized I wasn't friends with a couple of my cousins that were in these pictures on Facebook. Soon, old friends and family became new again.

This story happened again and again. Facebook Timeline is magical if you use it to its full potential. We're now in an era where not only can we recollect memories of the past, but we can do so in a social environment and make them new. We can tie photos to locations. We can tie photos to people. We can tie photos to dates. We can discuss those photos. And we can do all of this in places across the world with those that are in the photos. We can then share them with other friends to discuss further.

I realized something I never did before as I uploaded my old photos to Facebook this time. I realized these memories were never lost. They just existed in the heads of others that were there with me, and Facebook made it possible for me to access them. Facebook Timeline brought out those memories and allowed the timeline of life to continue. Just like the book, "Love You Forever," now I can observe this circle of memories and love as it moves from one generation to the next. My parents and grandparents didn't have this opportunity available to them.

The only difference is the dead no longer need to be living for those memories to last. I look forward to letting my children experience my own life's moments as they friend me on Facebook and I grow older.

Facebook Timeline, in this brave new world, is timeless.

Jesse Stay is author of "Google+ Marketing For Dummies," "Google+ For Dummies," and "Facebook Application Development For Dummies." He writes regularly on StayNAlive.com and spends his days as director of social media for Deseret Digital Media.

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