Keeping memories alive

Back when I started this blog in 2004 there was really one main digital repository for posting your stuff.  A BLOG.

Starting in 2004 I made a free blog on Blogger.com and started documenting parts of my life so I could remember them easily (otherwise I’m quite forgetful).  In the case of this blog, I was attempting to document my financial life.  Hence, Neville’s Financial Blog was born.

Well in that 10 year span there’s been MULTIPLE forms of “life documenting” platforms.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, are good examples that’ve taken off.

You post stuff to these services, and they let everyone else know what you’re doing.  Neat!

HOWEVER……In those last two years I’ve noticed some personal disappointment with the rise of these platforms, in the sense that I now take much less effort to document my experiences, therefore the experiences are not documented and preserved very well.

Imagine if your history books documented history purely through something like a Facebook or Twitter feed.  It would probably be a less-complete view of what’s really going on in your life.


LEMME GIVE YOU A REAL EXAMPLE USING FACEBOOK:
The primary modus for “looking at someone’s past” on Facebook involves scanning through their pictures.  There’s several things going on here:

  1. Not all the pictures on your Facebook Feed are yours, but some are from other people.
  2. Just because a photo is awesome, doesn’t mean you had an awesome time.
  3. The documentation is heavily skewed towards fun social events.

Now Facebook and others have shown that people LOVE posting pictures and keeping their past history alive.  In this way a Facebook Newsfeed is essentially a type of blog feed, but it’s WAY easier to create content for…..  Just post a photo or updates, people comment, create interaction….now you have “content”!  Easy!

Checkout this photo of my family (and surrogate family) on a house boating trip together in Utah in May 2014.  This was a picture posted to Facebook sometime during the trip:
boating-utah“Epic weekend houseboating with the crew!”

Lots of people liked it.
Lots of people commented on it.
Lots of people were informed that eight of us had a baller-ass time on Lake Powell.

Simply looking at this ONE picture will forever remind me of that trip.

By the time we got back home from the trip, there were already several pictures posted online of the trip by various family members, so I became FAR LESS willing to take time to document the trip in the form of a more comprehensive blog post.

But it hardly describes the entire experience.

For that, I would have to write a whole post.
For that, I would have to upload more pictures to an album.
For that, I would have to edit pictures / write text / edit video / upload somewhere.

Uploading that photo and posting a caption to Facebook took less than 30 seconds.  Making a full blog post about the experience may take upwards of 2+ hours at minimum.

Essentially it’s a much larger pain in the ass to document the experience in a more complete way.

BUT……

That trip was a treasured experience of mine.  The stuff that makes life good.  And it all gets flushed down the toilet in a few months since my memories of that trip will slowly start to fade with time.

I will always have the pictures, but with a complete blog post about the experience, my memories are retained MUCH better.  

For example, when I did my homeless experiment, I could simply post one picture of myself and recall that I did that experiment.  Here’s me when I got back home after 5 days of pretending to be homeless:

That photo personally reminds me that I DID the experiment, but it doesn’t remind me of how I felt, the boredom I tried to combat, the people I met (which I couldn’t take pictures of), the mini-experiments I tried, the prejudices I had, the problems I saw.

All of that took time to document…..but now that’s all preserved forever, because I took the time & effort to document it:
http://www.nevblog.com/homeless-experiment/

 

Another example is when I *ahem* supposedly *ahem* went to Cuba for my 30th birthday.  I can see this picture on Facebook and be reminded of it:
Cuba Handstand

But I did a better job with documenting the whole thing also.  I made a blog post where you could see a lot of pictures and read about the experience, and even compiled a video:
http://www.nevblog.com/cuba/

I also created a whole Facebook album with the pictures, and captioned each picture.  I remember all of this documentation taking A LOT OF TIME.

But in the end I’ll forever remember that experience in a much more complete way, which is valuable to me.  

 

Now I actually did a decent job of documenting the Cuba trip on Facebook.  There’s an album somewhere called “My 30th Birthday In A Country You’re Not Supposed To Talk About” (or something like that).  I sifted through everyone’s different photos, curated which ones made it to the album, and added captions to every picture. I even uploaded the video compilation I made.

But here’s my biggest fear about that, and one of the reasons I don’t put that much time into it anymore:

MANY-A-PLATFORM have come and gone:
-MySpace.
-Tumblr.
-Friendster.

…….these were all life-documenting platforms that people spent a lot of time curating their memories on, yet they went away.  And along with their demise went your hard work documenting.

However if you keep all these memories on your own platform, over time you’d have quite an impressive collection. THIS my friends, is why I keep this personal blog.

The satisfaction is for no one else but myself, though sharing it adds to that satisfaction.  But basically the point of all of this is:

Document your experiences better now, and it will pay off for you later :-)

Sincerely,
Neville Medhora

Blog posted on: July 1, 2014

13 comments on “Keeping memories alive

  1. Fey

    So true, Nev! I had a very similar problem but with generally taking photos: “I have my iPhone with me, so I can take photos any time”, except I didn’t! A lot of memories got lost, because I didn’t even take the pictures. So I bought a cam, to mindfully take pictures/videos and also take the time to create a bigger blogpost with it. The first time I did it was, when I traveled to Berlin, but after reading this, I’ll make an even bigger effort to write that stuff down :)

    Reply
    1. Neville Post author

      Hey Fey!

      Yea I take a lot more pictures with my phone now, and never even carry a real camera anymore.

      The problem is most of the pictures just end up on my camera roll and then uploaded into my computer eventually in some giant folder.

      There’s no sorting of the pictures or anything like I USED to do with a real camera. So while it’s better to have an awesome phone camera than lug around a different device, currently a lot of stuff still gets lost in the heap.

      Glad you’ll put more effort into organizing your stuff. I think it’s one of those investments in yourself that will pay off when you’re older :)

      Reply
  2. Salzman

    Good post. I still think the homeless experience posts remain my favorite. They were so vivid in the story telling, and since you posted almost daily about it was almost as if I was there on that journey with you.

    Reply
  3. jaqusto

    I agree with you 100% Neville, the social media platforms are numerous and confusing and updating them can even seem like a job sometimes. I also think it’s important to be mindful as to when you actually take pictures/movies with a cell phone or tablet. It is just so darn easy to do that you run the risk of actually missing the moments that you’re documenting. (See Louis CK bit about that here:http://bit.ly/1pIx9A3) As a parent so I have been guilty of this in the past with my kids. But now more than ever I try to just live in the moment and watch them do their thing and most times that is enough.

    Reply
  4. Martin

    This is so true! There are tons of details you forget over time that when you remember them you say “holy cow! i did that and was so cool!”. That’s why I’ve started documenting as much as I can but without wasting time.

    One idea I’ve started is to record 10-second videos everyday or so, then create a complete video for the whole year. Videos make me to remember more details than a photo.

    Good post and thanks for the reminder :)

    Reply
  5. Greg

    Very interesting post Nev. I particularly liked the twist to get me to read the whole thing by needing to come to your blog. Very cool!

    This post is very timely as I recently sold my father’s condo. (he has Alzheimer’s and now lives in extended care at the hospital) I’ve been in the process of decluttering and shredding years of his paperwork. (I came across all of my report cards and class photos from Grade 1 to 12)

    He was an avid photographer and I literally have slides and pictures from when my parents emigrated to Canada from England in the early 1950′s. Some are in albums, but most are just in boxes and there are a lot of them.

    Unraveling a persons life is an incredible experience and what to do with all of “his” memories is a particularly grueling task.

    Anyhow, it got me thinking about the lack of order to my own digital photos and actually more importantly, how I don’t ever seem to revisit past experiences other than in my mind.

    Perhaps it is time for a digital declutter to go along with my physical declutter that is being spurred on by this last 6 month journey with my father, his illness and his stuff!

    Thanks for the post and the reminder that memories can be of value if they are recorded. (but there comes a point I recognize when, particularly if one has dementia, living in the moment is all we have)

    Cheers G

    Reply
  6. Dave

    MySpace and Tumblr are still there; are you saying that they are less popular now? Or are you saying that they have less functionality than they once had? I confused.

    Reply
  7. Bill

    Great post Neville. I just heard the term “Digital Sharecropping” and your story reminded me of an article on the topic. Both definetly serve as reminders to “own” our digital footprint. Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Andrea

    Great post Nev, I love your way of “tracking life” :D

    One thing though: hosting your own platform can be a small investment.

    If you were to have a really small budget, how would you solve this issue to guarantee that nothing gets lost?
    (You’re on wp-engine right now which can be kinda pricey)

    Peace & Love!

    PS: This post fired up my willingness to start tracking again what I do :)

    Reply
  9. Donna

    Yep I have been taking the lazy way out for too long. I’ve had on my to do list for FOREVER! Fixin’ to make it happen. I will not SCOOCH the paper down until I have completed the task :)

    Reply
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