Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We're All Samuel Pepys Now

We’re all Samuel Pepys now.

I’ve had that thought dozens of times, but I never wrote it down until today, in response to Brave Sir Robin's prodding that we go read a post on his friend’s site, about knitting. And other important things. Then my comments on his blog blossomed into this post.

This story of knitting and crisis and love is just one example of why I love blogging. We're all Samuel Pepys now, all working to make sense of our individual corners of the world, documenting those thoughts, and enriching each others' lives in the process.

The art of letter writing may be dying as people e-mail one another instead, and then delete rather than put the precious words in a shoebox or a file cabinet drawer. We’re losing the intimacy of our correspondents’ handwriting, the fragrance of the scented stationery, the little oil stains from the lunch carelessly eaten above the note – perhaps by both writer and reader.

But what we lose when we lose that old way of doing things, we gain tenfold through blogging. Not only can we continue to connect with our friends, we form new friendships with people we’d never meet otherwise, even though we may never “meet” them face-to-face (in some cases we may never even know their “real” names or faces). These are friendships just the same, and I cherish mine. We know they love cats, or their favorite foods, or why it’s bliss for them to get out of town on the weekend. We worry about their health crises. We revel in their zany, lovable way with words. We live abroad with them vicariously. Or in the big city. We watch them manage their money with panache. We hear their powerful voices and see through their eyes the beauty in the smallest things (really, you should sample this blog!). Other times we just peek in once or twice on people who remain strangers, but who still allow us and anyone else who cares to drop by a casual intimacy that we simply couldn’t get in the face-to-face world where in a crowd we’re mostly a little stand-offish, fiercely maintaining our personal space.

Pepys didn’t aspire to be a writer of importance for centuries. He was simply observing, just as we bloggers are. I sometimes wonder where our blogs will be in 10, 20, 100 years. Somewhere still archived, I hope. Here lie riches for the sociologists, folklorists, anthropologists, and historians of the future, those scholars who will want to know how people lived their lives in the early 21st century.

Because we’re all Samuel Pepys now.


Brave Sir Robin said...

You just said, very eloquently, what I'm sure most of us feel.

I do have a shoebox full of old letters, but I haven't looked at them in about 5 years.

Anonymous said...


These are wise words indeed. I just reread come of my diaries (I have been keeping them since 1955!). These are letters to myself, I suppose. What a strange person I was and still am!


Bee said...

Bitty, I just love this post.

Blogging is the best bits of keeping a diary crossed with the with the intimacy of letter writing crossed with the randomness of the letter in the bottle which you send out . . . and secretly hope to find.

Bitty said...

BSR: I have some old letters, not very well organized. Someday. But I do have a file folder full of letters from our Renee (pronounced Ree-knee) who has been gone now for over 10 years and who was our family's version of your Marv.

Alanna: I've been a sporadic diary-keeper. I have none of them. I wish I had some of them! As a teen, I wrote "I love Tom F" in a diary, my sister read it, humiliated me in front of the family, and because of the privacy issue, I've been reluctant to keep a diary since. Yet I blog!

Bee: your comments are the perfect coda to this post!!!

Tink said...

Time time and time. I have a great book, letters of the Century, and, for me, it is full of wisdom and love and connection. And now, in this century, I am talking to you through Brave Sir Robin, through my Yarn Shop bog! So great!