Gone are the days when we used to be able to take photos on a camera with a photo roll, get the shots developed, be amazed by how marvellous technology has become, and shove the photos into a photo album, which would come out only when our memories start to rust - just enough to remind us that they’re rusting and hence need some oiling.
Now, we have ones and zeroes. I don’t know about you, but technology still baffles me. It’s bamboozling how digital data is stored and consumed nowadays, and even more so is how it all came to be. But all that is for another day.
Today, I’m deleting everything on my phone’s camera “roll”. All 800-odd photos. Unedited, raw, straight off of the real world. These moments that I thought were digital-memory-worthy - now all gone. Well, not yet, but it’s going to happen as soon as I type this article off.
The poor phone looks almost as if its sweating and shaking - afraid of being lobotomized and memory-wiped like in the MIB movies. Okay, not really - it’s just being all sleek and shiny like it always is. But because it has limited internal storage and no way to expand it either, I have to make a tough decision right now - delete photos, or have the immovable “low storage space” notification make me flinch every time I take a new photo. Hello, Mr. Catch-22. The only reason I kept these photos all this while is that I wanted to be able to peruse them whenever I wanted to, without any inconvenience. I’ll still be able to do this using my external hard drive and the computer, but it isn’t the same as flicking through them on the phone. The problems I face. Tsk tsk tsk.
This instant-gratitification syndrome has been insidiously eating away at my soul ever since I got this limited-storage phone, the Nexus 4. I pity iPhone users. So many photos, so little space. How do they manage?! Perhaps they have a secret iSecret society where they have a secret iSecretPort to insert an external SD card. Or maybe they aren’t as much of a photo-hoarder as I am.
It is now probably the time to confess that yes, this is too trivial of a problem to deserve a Tumblr post of its own, but you see - everyone has their own share of life-changing decisions, and this? This happens to be one of my life’s life-changing decisions. So, deal with it.
Moving on - the photos. They’re all backed up in a tacky blue Seagate, on which I have very little trust. A piece of plastic with more pieces of plastic inside it, along with some pretentious metal shmucks, trying to store all of these important memories; which could fall and and break and destroy my life in the blink of an eye? I wonder how anything could go wrong with that! It’s all totally so comforting! I could rely on it forever. Not.
You must sense how cynical I am about this poor piece of technology. All it’s doing is its job, and although it isn’t ever going to be pretty, or successful, or an important member of the society, it still plays an important role in my life. Close to 500 GB of data - all so, so very important to me. I should respect it and treat it well. I apologize for the previous para, but not so much as to delete it. The truth needs to be told. It’s the only way.
Having a bad memory probably aided in hoarding all these images. Also, the amazing feeling of photographic evidence. So many times, I refer to old photos when I need to prove something to a friend and go, “HA! SEE?!”. It is but natural that I will miss this. More than 16 months of photographic evidence - gone. Sure, I’ve deleted a heap of photos off of this phone during these past months, but that’s like talking a stroll by the beach, compared to the marathon I’m about to run. (Note : there seems to be some sort of incongruity with the metaphor that precedes this sentence, but nothing shall be done about it. Live with that nagging feeling at the back of your head until something else more vile replaces it. Sorry.) Going through these photos now, it seems like such a waste of space (because there’s such a dearth of it), but at the same time, it makes me feel so much more human because it makes me remember these little incidents and the anecdotes that pop up alongside.
At first, I thought of selective deletion. Then it occurred to me that that would waste a whole lot of time (because I always end up arguing for the keeping of many photos when they have to be chosen to be deleted, assigning some sort of emotional value to them and saying that they are hence too value to be deleted) and that that wouldn’t be feasible, so I’m going to delete everything. Everything. EEEEEEEVERYTHIIIIIING. Ahem.
On the bright side, I know that I’ll feel relieved that I won’t have to worry about running out of space, for the trip that I’m going on starting today, and also for the next few months. I will obviously arrive at this juncture once again, contemplating about how silly all of this is - the photos, the ones and zeroes, the memories, the universe… Till then, this post will be a reminder of how brave I was. I’m giving my future self the courage to be able to do this all over again. Go ahead, Future-Govi, go ahead. You can live without those random photos of random food items that you thought you just had to have. Or those blurry photos of your friends from a party, or the funny expressions they made in a well-timed-yet-embarrassing-enough-to-disqualify-you-from-a-job-interview-if-they-found-out photo, or the plethora of other such memories.
They all make a trail that forms part of the path I will look back upon, one day when I’m bored and need a good laugh. I’m pretty sure I won’t remember even 10% of these photos within the next week. I’m pretty sure I don’t remember them right now! Which is why I’m feeling so melancholy deleting them - it’s like I’m deleting my own memory. it might seem a little scary that I depend on an electronic device to record and remember such inconsequential memories, but such is life - the sun rises in the east, the birds chirp at ungodly hours, iPhones are finally inexplicably overpriced, and I have a terrible memory.
My smartphone’s helped me remember so much more than I could’ve without it, and for that, I am grateful. But for now, I think I’m going to see how weird it will be to go back to forgetting almost everything that’s happened in my life - the “little” things, I mean. Sure, I’ll remember the broad picture and the major events, but that’s like having the lite version of an app instead of the full, in-depth, intricate one. After all, this is how it used to be not less than a couple of years ago, no?
So, here it goes - The Forgetting.
P.S. - No editing’s been done to this article, so, kindly forgive any grammatical errors.