My friend RJ was the best man at my friend John Serpico’s wedding this past weekend. After a few drinks to help him over the expected nerves, he pulled out his notes.
“I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find an appropriately humorous anecdote describing John and Kim,” RJ told the crowd. “Until I was reminded that they’d met online. Specifically in the ‘Boston’ community on LiveJournal.” And RJ took out another sheet of notes and preceded to recount the bride and groom’s first tenuous conversation.
It was a touching story (“I can has friend?”). And it makes me wonder how frequent these stories will become in future weddings. So much of the social palimpsest happens in a digital medium now. The first date can now be documented with Facebook photos; the first kiss as an ambiguous Twitter update. The story is both firmer and hazier at the same time: rendered in chiaroscuro rather than watercolor, but still not quite the real thing.
This isn’t a lament for a hokier era, though. Increased documentation, when done right, is a good thing. Machines should do the grunt work for us; social machines should do the grunt work of social documentation. Who was at what event with whom. Human memory, after all, is the weakest medium for art. That’s why we stare at the “Mona Lisa,” even though we’ve seen it a million times. That’s why we listen to our favorite songs on Repeat. That’s why we laugh when our best friend tells us the story of how we met.
So keep chatting, posting and Twittering. Just choose what you say carefully. This is for posterity, so be honest.