One of the benefits to being a part of Generation X is our ability to seamlessly move between the analog and digital worlds.
We remember when referencing the cloud referred to white puffy balls in the sky above and filing always referred to something paper based.
If you asked us how we organized our pictures many would refer to the photo albums we had and or perhaps sheepishly mention how we intended to move the photos we had in a shoe box or something similar to the aforementioned albums.
Hell, if you caught us at the right moment we might have told you about the great trip or party we were just at and how we hoped our pictures were good because in the days of film you had to wait and see if your snaps were worth saving.
That is because it sucked to blow a shot on a roll of 12, 24 or 36, especially when you had to pay to find out that your photo was out of focus, Aunt Bunny had closed her eyes or discovered that some kid had photobombed you.
My apologies if that was me, back in those days I took immense pleasure in casually inserting myself into the background or side of your photo.
Welcome To The Digital Graveyard
My little sister and her family are somewhere in the skies above us.
In a handful of hours they’ll be back on their side of the country and will resume their normal lives just as we have done here.
Ten days and several hundred pictures later I am not worried about whether I took good or bad pictures in the same way I once was because digital photography has turned the particular world upside down.
What I do worry about is trying to make sure I have saved my files in places that will help them live forever or at least long enough for us to look back upon them in the years to come and smile at the memories we made.
But because I don’t have to develop and print my pictures anymore I have fallen into a habit of not printing out any shots.
Instead of trying to find space on my shelves for new albums filled with photographs of memories I never want to forget I have a growing digital graveyard.
Granted my digital graveyard consists of more than just photos. There is an assortment of other odds and ends living in my cloud and other forms of digital media.
I try to make a point to clean our my inboxes, Google Drive and all of the other places the digital stuff accumulates but because it doesn’t take up hard space and because storage has become so cheap I am not as active about maintaining order there as I should be.
Unless the photos are really, really bad they end up sticking around and even though I try to create digital albums there aren’t as many as there could or probably should be.
Death and Digital Files
I don’t mean to be morbid, but sometimes I think about what will happen to my digital files when I die.
Some of the files I keep online will definitely need to be passed along to family but not all.
No need to give them the digital detritus anymore than I would want to pass along old file folders filled with things that have no value to anyone besides me.
It reminds me of Ozymandias:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
I suppose I am no different than many when I say that I hope after I am gone people have good memories and that I made a difference in the world.
Maybe that digital graveyard will have more value than I realize and help provide the proof that I did more than just take up space.
Maybe 200 years from now my great, great, great, great-grandchildren will use those files to see what life was like now and to gain some benefit or insight into their lives and their world.
Assuming that the files survive and they’re still able to access them.
But I don’t have time to worry about that now because I am too busy trying to clear out the junk and figure out the best way to maintain my digital photo albums.