Do Androids Dream Of Digital Memorabilia?

I walked by this bench on my way home, and I had to stop and take a picture. These pages were somebody’s things. She cared for them, otherwise she wouldn’t have kept them. They meant something to her. Now, they were tossed away. Garbage, yellow with years and useless. Maybe the owner of the pages passed away. Maybe they symbolized a time that was no more. It’s sad, how we can throw away memories.

These things, they aren’t just things. They are memories. They trigger memories in our brain, whenever we touch and smell them. They are a select few, because we don’t have room to carry with us everything we have ever touched. We only get to pick the strongest, most important memories to keep.

I have a habit: every time I move, I throw away half of my things when I pack. It means I have less to carry, and I have room to grow. When I unpack, I throw away half of what I carried over. These are the things I thought I may need, but in truth do not fit my new surrounding. The thing that takes the longest to sort is always the memorabilia drawer. It’s the drawer where I keep the trinkets I have nothing to do with. A medal I won in second grade, my high school diploma, a little wooden thing-a-ma-bob that I’ve got from a friend from halfway across the globe. This is the hardest drawer to sort. What stays? What still has meaning? I touch each item, and I wait. Does it bring back a memory or a feeling? I should keep it.

Our Digital Life

The drawer is full of old stuff. It hardly has anything new in it. It may be because I’m getting less sentimental about things, but I think it’s because I have less memory-inducing items. When have you last developed a photo? Looked through a physical album? We collect digital memories.

I have more photos than I can count. I hardly ever look at them. Mostly, because they don’t induce such a strong reaction as something physical. I guess it’s how our brains are wired. Nevertheless, my new memories are depicted by digital memorabilia. Digital photography, digital video, a Facebook status saying “zOMG! I had so much fun last night!”. How are you suppose to filter through your Facebook statuses? Is a starred tweet really as meaningful as a piece of paper that you have deliberately kept for years?

We just keep it all, hardly sorted. We don’t have the tools to filter, and we don’t have the need. Storage is cheap. Why would you ever delete anything? But you end up with too much, and thus, you end up with not enough. Not enough time to go through your old memories, and see how you have changed, grown, evolved.

Next time I’ll move, I don’t think I’ll have to throw away half of my memorabilia. What’s left of it, fits in a tiny little box, and everything in it is at least six years old. And I’ll be taking my portable hard-drive with me, of course. It still has space for another decade or so of digital memories. I have plenty of space to keep them all.

I just hope I can remember when they were all taken.

  • http://shmichael.com Michael

    The Pursuit of Happiness, Via Mark Pilgrim:

    1. Stop buying stuff you don’t need

    2. Pay off all your credit cards

    3. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit in your house/apartment (storage lockers, etc.)

    4. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit on the first floor of your house (attic, garage, etc.)

    5. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit in one room of your house

    6. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit in a suitcase

    7. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t fit in a backpack

    8. Get rid of the backpack

  • http://omergertel.com Omer Gertel

    “But I have baggage, emotional baggage” – Cantata for a first date

    So, in order to be happy we need to have no memories? Or have only pure memories, unburdened by the stuff that symbolizes them?
    I’m with you up until the backpack, but I like carrying it around.

  • http://innovationimitation.com Mike

    Digital memories are indeed cheap and abundant. We live in times when virtually all our life can be recorded and replayed. But that doesn’t take us back in time – those lost moments are still lost, and the quiet melancholy that takes over us when we reminded of them is still quite sad.

    I guess what we need is not so much moments turned into bytes, but more moments turned into meaningful experiences. We need to be able to connect with our past, and be able to draw something meaningful from it, not just archive and replay it.