Friday, July 20, 2012

Digital Epitaph

"When you are busy taking photos, you don't notice the camera is blocking the way to your heart."

Perhaps foolishly, this summer I decided to sort, tag and delete my way through my photos. All eleven thousand of them. It's slow going, especially when I keep adding new ones every day. At the rate I'm going, I'll have 100,000 photos before I'm through purging.

You'd think it would be easy to go through and cut some of the chaff. Sure the blurry ones are a cinch to chop. Yup, I can delete that one where your eyes are closed. And just how many photos do I need of the sailboat.  Really, a sailboat? 

But when it comes to the photos of the children, I find myself clinging to each small glimpse of a time gone by. Here's a shot of Miss leaping out of the water smiling. Here's one of Miss leaping out of the water while making a funny face. Here's Miss leaping out of the water when she was 7. How can I possibly cut any of these treasures?

Traveling back in time through my Picassa library, I am surprised to see how much my children have changed. I imagine it's a bit like what Granna experiences when seeing them after months of being apart. With each glimpse into my past, I feel nostalgic, wishing those days of innocence were still here. Then I sober. Really? Back then I could hardly wait for them to grow up!

Tonight at dinner Dad was talking about going through a box of photos of our young family. Film limited the number of shots Mother took and each print was special -- even the blurry ones. He had me look through a box of photos from my grandmother's era.  I found myself guiltily thinking, "Who were these people? Why do I care about them when I only have a vague idea of how they are related to me. Shouldn't he purge some of them?"

Dad's box of photos spanned more than 120 years.  There couldn't have been more than 3000 photos for all that time and yet I could easily part with more than half of them.  Made me wonder what will happen in the future to all of these digital records of mine that I can't bear to part with.

I sometimes get a half-urge to write up a digital destruct directive (DDD) for my will. It would give explicit instructions about social media accounts to delete (at least the most recent 20 or so) and what to do with the rest of my digital trail (including photos, websites, bank accounts etc.). Morbid, right? That's why I haven't done it yet.

Yet the idea of one final status update appeals so I keep on thinking about it. Call it my digital epitaph.

Dear Reader, if you were going to write a digital epitaphone, what would yours say?