Real life (as we now know it)

30 March 2015

Sorry ‘Trekkies’ – this post has nothing to do with Jim. According to Wikipedia (so it must be right!), real life is a “phrase used to distinguish actual events, people and activities from fictional worlds or characters, and from interactions on the Internet…”. Real life (apparently) refers to life offline – does such a thing exist? When was the last time you spent a whole day without going online? I bet that’s hard to work out, isn’t it? It’s probably longer ago than the last time I picked up a tabloid newspaper….

As a professional genie, clients often ask about how life would have been for their ancestors. They are frequently (thankfully!) more interested in the places they lived and the occupations they had, rather than just the names and dates. Real life ‘back in the day’ was very different to our lives today. When my grandparents were born, televisions had not been invented and only those with affluence had the luxury of indoor lavatories. The very notion of having a telephone which had no cord and could work (more or less) anywhere in the world would have been laughable one hundred years ago. Having virtual meetings by ‘video-link’, Google+ Hangout, Skype etc…. who would have dreamt it? Well someone did!

In the field of genealogy, so much has changed since I first started researching – why oh why did I spend several days extracting all the references to my surname study name of Sillifant (and variants) from the enormous BMD volumes at the Family Records Centre? If only I could have seen into the future and known that one day, the indexes would all be digitised. And the hours I lost searching for my 3xgreat-grandfather and family in Cheshunt when now, all I need do is put his name and year of birth into Ancestry/FindMyPast and up he pops in seconds. Grrrr…. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?!

Real life. Is there really a life offline? I somehow doubt that many people would say so.

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