Further Thoughts on the Time Capsule

It occurred to me last night that I didn’t spend much time on the folder as a whole, so I want to do a quick follow-up, mainly to clear out some ideas.

I was surprised to find that the majority of stuff I saved was from between 1999 and 2002. My first instinct was to explain this as being more emotionally sensitive as a teenager, and thus imprinting emotional significance on more items than I might now. Following from that, I thought that maybe I’d become less passionate with age. It might be true, too, but I’m not convinced that it’s the reason I’ve put less items in the folder.

Sadly, the explanation is much simpler than that–and it was in front of me the whole time. In the entry about the Greek alphabet, I noted that I hadn’t anticipated the iPhone. That ended up being truer than I expected. The explosion of the Internet and the push toward paperless business drastically reduced the amount of physical objects onto which I could place emotional significance. Email replaced those letters, and Facebook replaced postcards. Granted, those postcards are some of the most recent items in the folder, but the friends who send these out also hold the medium in high regard, so they might be an anomaly. Generally, though, I think this is true.

I have an external hard drive just for safeguarding my photos, and I got a Flickr account mainly so I could access them. I keep two years’ worth of photos stored locally, and then they go in the external drive. I could do a time capsule entry on that drive, but there is something bland about sifting through the digital contents of a tiny silver rectangle. It would be redundant, anyway, since Flickr has a full record and is much easier to access.

And there’s the rub. Time capsules are, themselves, almost an antiquated idea now that we record so much of our lives digitally and store all that data on our computers or in The Cloud. If I were to start over, putting items in a shoebox, I’m not sure what I would put in there. Plane tickets maybe, as records of my travel. Old notebooks, definitely. Programs from weddings, funerals, concerts, and the like–most certainly. But the rest would have to be larger items: locks of hair, old dog collars, teeth, removed tumors–you know, the essentials.

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