I recently came across some online photos of Hindu wedding rituals which looked amazing and special because they were part of an auspisicous occasion. Then today I saw a mother across the street taking pictures with her smart phone of her kid. He was doing nothing in particular besides walking and looking cute. The five year old just didn’t get it and was not cooperative in posing or smiling. And it started a whole chain of thoughts for me. I realized that with the prevalence of cheap and easy photo, sound, and video recording, people preserve too many memories today. It’s not like the time of film cameras and tape camcorders when the capturing of memories had to be used judiciously. Digital memory capture is essentially unlimited and free.
NOTE: This is a different angle on the same phenomenon as a prior post I wrote called “Digital Cameras are Evil.” From way back in 2008. That one talks about how easy it is to capture lots of memories as if it’s a good thing. (I used evil in a sarcastic way.)
Hard drives full of pictures and video are hard to sort through and organize and so the pictures and videos are often never get looked at again. Prints are rarely printed. Hard drives crash and the memories disappear forever because for some reason, few people back up their pictures on multiple drives. I am so paranoid that I even go to the extent of keeping one hard drive at my place and another at a family member’s place. Assuming the files survive, the bigger concern I have is that every moment of every event or every vantage is captured. It can be entertaining, but when those are mixed in with significant memories, the significant ones are hard to find. They are in a sense cheapened. An anology I can think of is like when a person swears too often, others don’t realize when the person speaking really is mad.
To be fair though, with photography, higher numbers of pictures lead to a higher likelihood that some of them will turn out really well. But capturing of these memories has become like a multimedia diary. It’s TMI in visual form. Sometimes, we should just keep the memory as a memory and not as an object. These are objects that can be overshared whereas memories are shared in a more limited, personal and meaningful way. A memory stored in one's mind might not be as accurate as a picture but it will probably remain more memorable.