I got my first digital camera three years ago* and am ashamed to admit that I have never, ever, not once, printed an actual picture.
(*Actually, that’s a lie. My parents got me a digital camera for Christmas in 2002, complete with all accessories - printer, dock, shiny picture paper! - I used it perhaps once. Maybe twice. Never did like it much.)
While I have - at last - toed my way into the digital world, I think it’s outrageous that I’ve not printed a single picture, that I have nothing to show except 55 albums on Facebook, that I have but one framed picture in my apartment (a bridesmaid gift from my friend Becky).
For some reason I’ve been über bothered by my lack of photos lately. I keep thinking how unfortunate this digital era is. How impersonal. How hapless and forlorn our lives are without bonafide snapshots.
This disdain has forced flashbacks of my first encounter with the world of digital. I was my sophomore year in high school (can NOT believe that was over a decade ago), and my teacher Mr. DeMazza had one. It looked scary. And fragile. But he ended up being quite the trendsetter with this fancy camera! The first of the firsts.
I, however, didn’t really take to these odd clodhoppers - neither as a sophomore in high school or a sophomore in college. (I still don’t think I fully have. I just don’t understand their zillion different settings, their options, their color schemes.)
I thought digital cameras were pointless and a royal pain in the ass. You have to charge a battery? You have to plug it in to upload? What the hell is a memory card??
I preferred my good old Kodak with a flip-up-flash n’ revolutionary Advantix drop-in film thankyouverymuch. (That panoramic option? Coolest thing ever!)
I don’t rightly remember what happened after my little flip-up-flash cam closed for business - sigh. I think I probably replaced it with my mom’s Elph (which I totes swiped from her). Then I switched over to trusty, reliable, super simple disposables - my medium of choice for quite a few years (I still have a handful kicking around that I’ve failed to develop).
That is, until Christmas 2007. That’s the year I revolutionized my digital photography philosophy. Funny that it coincided with the birth of my Facebook career. I don’t think it was a coincidence, embarrassingly.
I am grateful for advances in technology. I appreciate computers. Our lives have been made infinitesimally simpler by the advent of certain smarty-pants machines.
But while I fully admit I am Dark-Digital-Side convert who would never, ever in a million revert back to the paper era (BOOKS ASIDE), I must say: I miss printed pics mucho.
Now it’s like we’re friends with the computer. Our pictures aren’t tangible - we can’t touch them, flip through them, make piles of them. We just click through next, next, next. (Seriously, this simplicity has make stalkers of us all.)
And what’s more is that these computerific portraits are oftentimes pixel-fied. Blurry. Smeary. Boxy. Like when your cable loses its signal and comes in blocky. That’s not what we look like! (Is it?)
So many personal artifacts now reside in the digital world. Planners are practically extinct. Handwritten letters - yeah right. Poems, stories, blogs. Everything is digitized. And while I live my life to a Macbook beat, I still give credence to the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words.
The dearth of physical photos disturbs me.
When I was younger, I painstakingly pieced albums together. I spent hour after hour doing such. Pictures from my travels, from high school, from college. Memories.
I feel like people just don’t do that anymore (perhaps that’s why I can’t seem to remember any meaningful event ever). Facebook “albums” are a poor excuse for the real thing.