Recently I was left alone for the entirety of a Saturday. On rare days when I feel affluent, I’ll go and purchase supplies to take on the many tasks that need doing around the house—most of the books on my office are still stacked on the floor for lack of shelves. I can build them, but that takes money. Often when I have an unclaimed day I plan it out weeks in advance. Things have been busy enough of late that I didn’t even have the time to do that. All the sudden I woke up on a November Saturday with tabula rasa in front of me. Then I realized one of the constant pressures I face: TMI. One of my nieces—the one who started this blog, actually—first introduced me to Too Much Information (TMI). I don’t get out much, you see.
Like most people who flirt with tech, I snap photos with my phone. When we go somewhere that I suspect we’ll never be able to afford to go again, I take an actual camera and let fly like I work for National Geographic or something. Since my laptop’s on a data diet, all of these end up on a terabyte drive, hurriedly downloaded as IMG or DSCN files, waiting to be sorted later. Do this since the inception of digital photographs and you’ll get a sense of the magnitude of the problem. My laptop says it’s full and I have to delete images with that dire warning they’ll go away forever. I back them up. When was the last time I did this? I wrote it down, but I forgot where. What did I even name the file? Did I back it up or is it on my hard disc? Why are there eight copies of the same photograph? I spent the day sorting, virtually.
Before I knew it, the sun was beginning to set. I’d awoken at 4:00 (being a weekend I slept in), and after a day of organizing electronic photos into electronic folders, I’d barely made a dent. Deduping alone takes so much time. Some of the pictures, while nice, I couldn’t remember at all. I shudder, though, thinking about grandparents that burned old photos because nobody remembered who they were any more. Then I realized that our lives are the most documented of any in history (so far) but nobody really cares. You could learn an awful lot about some stranger just by going through their photos—where they’ve been, what they thought important, and just how obsessive they could be. As I wound up the day, I realized why I don’t get out much any more.