The future of your digital memories.
My first email was pretty memorable. It was 3 words: "I love Kari", and was sent by a devilishly handsome 11th grader, to my good friend's email account, when I was in 10th grade. I didn't have access to AOL at the time and was delighted with the prospect of not having to risk waking parents with late night phone calls. I remember my excitement when she told me he had written. When I opened the email myself, I printed it out and saved it away with all of my other high school treasures. To this day, I can look at the folded piece of paper that holds the memory of this digital experience and recall the exact time I received my first electronic exchange.
I've written thousands of emails since then, but have printed very few (hardly any). Emails are essentially conversations, and I wouldn't imagine recording every conversation I have. That would be silly.
Photographs, however, are different. You photograph something with intention. You decide what you want to record, and you go through the actions to get it recorded. Unlike emails, photographs are meant to be archived. I can look through tons of old photographs that were painstakingly placed in photo albums and sort through boxes of countless others that didn't make the album cut. They tell the story of my childhood; they remind me of things stored deep away in my memory. They are important and highly valuable.
In my photographic timeline, there is a sudden drop-off of collected images that seams to coincide with my first digital camera. I know I took a lot of photos with that camera, but I have no record of them. They are merely data dust - lost in the depths of my first Macintosh computer that sits in the graveyard that is my basement. Some photos were saved on zip disks (which I still have). They are stored in a box with other obsolete devices that hold my memories. (cassette mixed tapes are in that box too)
When I became a mom, photo-taking took on a whole new level of meaning. I decided that collecting them digitally was not safe enough for me. I wanted to ensure that my children had photo albums to look through they way I did, and that the things that they are too young to remember now aren't lost. Storing the photos on my computer became too risky for me. My solution was simple. Each year, after their birthdays pass, I create a yearbook that includes all of the photos that are meaningful enough to print. The photos that didn't make the cut are still there on my drive, but I feel less fear if something were to happen to them.
I may have remembered my first email without printing it out, but I am truly grateful that I had. I wonder how many seemingly silly little memories are lost without a physical reminder of them.
Printing your photographs is a pain. Sorting through them takes time. Regretting that you didn't, when your computer dies, or when the impending digital dark age is upon us will be even worse than carving out time and energy now.