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The Fine Line Between Documenting Memories and Hoarding

So my wife and I are out to eat the other night with my mom, my sister, my brother and his wife, and it’s a jolly occasion to be certain — my brother’s 50th birthday celebration. So when my sister (who lives out of town) busted out her camera at the end of the night, I didn’t think much of it. After all, the evening was certainly worthy of documentation.

But as we gathered around to say cheese, (as my wife and I were doing in the picture which accompanies this post) I noticed something. My sister’s camera’s like 20 years old. As in I kinda thought it might be a Polaroid for a second. One of the James Gardner models. If you didn’t get that joke, you’re too young, which only furthers my point — my sister’s camera is a dinosaur, y’all. Though it is a digital camera, so at least she’s got that going for her.

But, I swear, it’s like the third one ever made, complete with the flash that flickers on and off six times before the camera actually takes a picture. So I started flipping my sister some good-natured grief about it, which caused her to get all defensive. And her defense? That it was made in 2007 (which, in my book, still makes it incredibly old). So I asked her to hand it over so I could examine it. And I started flipping through the images stored on its memory card and ran across one that was dated 2006 which clearly indicates two things. First, despite her claim, the camera was made in 2006 (at the latest) which means it’s at least six years old.

And second, I’m pretty sure having a picture on your camera that was taken in 2006 makes you a digital hoarder, no?

Which is where I’d like to jump off and express the following: while I totally cannot relate to having pictures on my camera which date back to the Bush administration, I CAN relate to having zillions of pictures organized neatly by date and or by event in iPhoto. Pictures my family and I often view, pictures which bring us great joy, but pictures which should probably be proudly displayed in a frame on a coffee table thus transcending their virtual status and attaining that of real.

Which begs the question: am I, like my sister, a digital hoarder? Which just might beg another question: are you?

Here’s my take: unless one actually converts one’s digital pictures to some sort of physical replica thereof, one does run the risk of becoming a digital hoarder. Again, my take only, but even immaculately organized digital photos (as I have in iPhoto) have a shortcoming. These are real memories, people. So why are we keeping them trapped in the virtual world?

Here’s where I waffle a bit. Digital scrapbooking is completely legit, and, as our family’s primary documentarian (is that a word?), and as a blogger, I believe that I am, indeed, a digital scrapbooker. And while I would argue that the virtual world is so prevalent that it’s now become a reality, I’d also argue this: not everyone is as firmly enmeshed in the virtual world as I am. Like my wife, for example. And she doesn’t exactly feel like strolling over to the computer and logging into my Flickr account whenever she wants to see a photo of our baby playing with our dog.

So, to that end, I’ve been making a concerted effort of late to take some of our more memorable moments and either (a) converting them into real, live pictures with their own frame or (b) converting them into a collection of real pictures and having them printed off in a scrapbook.

Which means that I’m looking for as many ways to do that as possible. And if you’re in that same boat, then you might want to know about Wendy’s awesome scrapbooking app. With it, you can organize all those great pics you just took on that fabulous vacation into a virtual scrapbook which you can share on Facebook (*cough* digital hoarder *cough*) OR you can order an actual hard copy of the scrapbook. You know, assuming you don’t win a free hard copy of your creation (which you could). It’s incredibly easy to use (I made one a week or two ago) and they look great. So check it out by clicking HERE.

So tell me, what’s your take on my whole “digital hoarder” theory?

A big thanks to Wendy’s for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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