The Lake Forest-Lake Bluff History Center in Lake Forest, IL put together a social media history project to document the daily life of average people (or average Instagram users) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Twice a week, they post questions, such as, “What food items did you stock up on?”, “What household items did you buy?”, “What was the hardest to find?” Then they invite people to respond in the post’s comments or email their answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Their most recent post asks how people are entertaining themselves. Reading books? Listening to podcasts? Hosting virtual parties? Binge watching the shows in their Netflix queue?
The History Center’s project got me thinking, what do I want people who aren’t born yet to know about me? Sometimes, the seemingly mundane things we do — read a book, buy something at the store, order a meal at a restaurant — reveal more about us than records we deliberately create “for posterity.” Recent forays into the ephemera my father accumulated over eight decades uncovered candid photos from high school, old hotel receipts, matchbooks from bars that no longer exist, and pay stubs from jobs I didn’t know he had. These “mundane” items create a picture of my father better than any profound statement he could have left for me to read.
So, I decided to answer the History Center’s questions about pandemic entertainment. Me, I’m listening to podcasts. All caught up on my favorites—Small Town Murder, The Vanished, True Crime Obsessed, Swindled, and Murderous Minors: Killer Kids—I’m searching for new shows to binge-listen. I’m also working on new episodes of my own podcast, The Cozy Corner with Alexia Gordon, and reading Beneath the Depths by Bruce Robert Coffin. And I’m “talking” to people on Facebook, although, strictly speaking, that’s not a change from normal for me. As an introvert, I find virtual conversations easier than face-to-face chats.
The History Center plans to collect the responses and archive them for future historians. Imagine scholars accessing (downloading?) the center’s digital record 100 years from now to learn about life during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic.
In the spirit of the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff History Center’s #myquarantinelife project:
What did you read during the pandemic?
What did you watch? Any books or TV shows based on books?
What did you listen to? Podcasts? Audiobooks? Music?