Dear diary! Covid-19 pandemic leads to resurgence in diary-keeping

Sep 06, 2020
Diary-keeping is back and better than ever. Source: Getty.

Starts at 60 bloggers Sue Leighton and Susan Gabriel-Clarke might live on different continents but that doesn’t stop them from staying up to date with one another through their routine daily emails. The pair discusses everything from what they’ve done during the day to their ailments and even their past loves – just like a modern day dairy.

Diary-keeping – whether it’s to record a special moment in your life, keep track of where you are or simply to get your thoughts down on paper – is one of the best habits to pick up, and these days you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t kept a diary at one point in their lives.

And as the lucky generation to properly see technology make its way into the world, many Baby Boomers have since moved their writing style from old-fashioned handwriting to suit the age of the computer. New diary entries now come in the form of emails between friends, blog posts and social media updates.

For Sue and Susan, their daily emails recount every moment of their lives and making the move online has only made their diary-keeping habits more prolific than ever before. Being able to share their inner thoughts with one another despite one living in Queensland and the other in France has been incredibly reassuring, particularly at this point in time.

“In truth, there isn’t anything we don’t discuss with each other,” Sue said. “It’s just like writing a daily diary. Particularly, throughout this pandemic, doing so is an incredible source of comfort and connection for both of us.”

Experts from RMIT University are now saying that the age-old hobby is experiencing a resurgence during the pandemic as people are quickly finding it helpful to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard during these troubling times. Dr Peta Murray from RMIT said that while keeping a regular record is helpful on an individual level, it can also be a great help to others.

We keep hearing these are unprecedented times but it’s largely because none of us on this earth today have a true understanding of what it’s like to live through a pandemic,” she said. “And why would we? We have already seen how vastly different the experience is depending on where one lives and their personal circumstances.”

Murray said that sharing diary entries helps to paint a picture in history of how the world is currently coping in a crisis. Gone are the days of hiding your diary under your bed as modern day diaries are much more open – especially through things like social media where the world now has much easier access to the experiences of others.

Starts at 60 blogger Lyn Fletcher reflected this fairly well in her routine diary-keeping in which she said started at beginning of the pandemic as a form of self-governed contact tracing.

Before the Covid App was available, I thought it would be a good idea to record each day – what we did, where we went (if we went out), who we saw/met, and how our lives were changing (e.g. new things we were cooking/doing). Fortunately, we haven’t had to refer to it for contact tracing, but it’s been an interesting journey so far.”

But diary-keeping doesn’t have to just be about the woes of the pandemic, as is true for fellow blogger Colin Blane who says he’s been keeping a diary everyday for almost 50 years, recording everything from phone calls to doctors appointments to where he wines and dines.

“My records have been invaluable on many occasions to prove important details about who I spoke to following disputes with Telstra, insurance companies and other organisations (I always keep a record of date, time, and who I spoke to),” he said. “Recording daily activities for me is therapeutic and fulfilling. Just as I start my day with a short prayer of thanks, I sign off with a sense of satisfaction. On a more personal note, my wife suffers from stroke induced aphasia, so the memories I jot down each day are consistently resurrected to paint word pictures for her to recollect.”

Do you keep a diary? Have you started because of Covid-19?

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