digital relics

digital_-_manip

digital - manip by ~larkie (deviantart.com)

About a month ago, in the process of searching for something, I ended up uncovering all of the boxes in my closet and sifted through some old items. Tonight, I went through forgotten folders on my computer, old blogs, and pictures/videos I’ve uploaded. It just dawned on me that in both cases, I actually did the same thing. It’s not always as obvious to the one living through an era that what one is experiencing is worth appreciating since one is submersed rather than viewing from the outside (a fish doesn’t think twice about breathing underwater while we, humans, wonder at the miracle of gills). The era we’re living through is the transition from material to digital, or maybe we should just call it abstract. We don’t stuff shoeboxes anymore, we fill hard drives. We don’t write in journals, we post entries on blogs. We don’t make scrapbooks, we create slideshows. We don’t have “little black books,” we have slick, shiny, smartphones. Even Post-Its are digitally “stuck.” This is not to say the former material means are now obsolete. They simply are no longer valued for their practical worth, but for the decreasingly common pleasure experienced in getting messy with our hands. Ironically, there is now a certain novelty to doing things the old-fashioned way. I think what this says about us is that we aren’t quite ready as a population to move head on into this new world where property no longer contains the idea of something physically owned. Will we ever be ready? I’m not sure. I, for one, have a hard time letting go of physical reminders of moments in my life. But ready or not, it seems we’re destined to eventually reach a point on the human timeline where historians no longer dust off artifacts, but instead examine digital relics as they plug in portable hard drives that use outdated USB technology and browse websites whose URLs have been long forgotten.

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