Life is transient. There is a long history of time during which we are not alive. Then we are briefly alive for some amount of time, and then for another much greater amount of time, we are not. Some people find this depressing, but I find it reassuring that no matter how much you may think you've screwed things up, it's almost certainly not a big deal in the scheme of things. In 100 years, nobody will remember the potato incident.
So yes, life is temporary. But we do mark the world as we pass through it.
Back in the old days, kids might carve their initials on a tree, maybe scrawl them in some wet cement, and that was our contribution to posterity.
Today we have the Internet.
Our lives have been recorded on computers to a degree of detail far beyond what has come before. Bloggers especially will have their lives recorded for later perusal, but pretty much anyone on Facebook has large swaths of their lives saved for posterity. Heck, that's why I titled this column how I did; when I go to save my work, I am asked, "save For Posterity?" But the word "posterity" sounds a lot like the word "posterior." And if there's one thing that the Internet keeps permanent records of, it's every time you've ever made an ass of yourself. It used to be if you were chatting with a friend and said something stupid, she'd forget it the following day.
Now if you are chatting online with a friend and say something stupid, it is in writing,
Still, I don't mean to imply that having our lives saved for posterity is necessarily bad. It's just different. A few decades from now, those of us in our old age will have our midlife documented online in a way that our parents could not have imagined. And for children who grew up with this, their entire lives will be saved for posterity. As grandparents, they'll be able to see all the incredibly stupid things they posted online as teenagers.
Actually, I changed my mind again. That sounds horrifying. I know that some people want to leave their mark on this world, to create something that will live on after they die. That's why some people have kids. That's why I write -- it accomplishes the same thing and involves much less work. I'll be glad for my writing to live on after me. But most of my life would probably be better off forgotten by the world at large.
At the very least, I'm hoping everyone forgets the potato incident.
Seth Brown is a humor writer, the author of "From God To Verse," and has no idea what potato incident you are talking about, you must be mistaken. His work appears weekly in the Transcript, and weakly on RisingPun.com.