Preserving Memories in the Digital Clutter Age

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In today’s world, we are inundated with unbelievable amounts of information. All day. Every day. News is on a 24-hour cycle and so are we. Some of us wake up, go to bed and spend much of the day checking in on social media.

We can find out what almost everyone we know thinks about just about everything, and what they ate for their last 10 meals. Thanks to social media and geographically dispersed families, even many of our grandparents are enjoying aspects of our daily life thanks to Facebook, Marco Polo or other apps. With so much information available to us, how do we decide what’s important enough to save? Which memories do we preserve out of the approximately 25,000 images we may upload in our lifetimes? Smartphones and easy-to-use apps make photo taking and sharing simple. How can we decide what is important in all of that digital clutter?

Why Do We Feel We Must Document Everything?

When we were children, we had a few photos taken at important milestones like birthdays or holidays. They were printed and placed in photo albums. You know the ones with the adhesive pages that never stayed sticky and plastic sleeve that always fell off. Your parents may have shelves full of these albums somewhere in the house. Film and processing of images took time and were not as inexpensive as digital. Fast forward to 2018 where we have a smartphone practically connected to our hand. We take photos of practically everything our child does. Every playdate. Every cute thing. Every sad thing.

Every milestone is documented with not a few photos, but hundreds. A vacation might result in a 1000 images. And all of the best ones are shared real-time to family and friends though social media and text. We chose our shots more carefully and only shot a couple of frames. Now we take a dozen of everything and think we’ll just choose the best and delete the rest later. But, does later ever honestly happen?

How often do we sit down and go through 1000 images a month and pick the best ones? More likely, we load them from the phone to computer, external hard drive or web-based storage and forget about them. When we flip through those albums at our parent’s and grandparent’s houses, it’s wonderful to revisit those memories. How are our children going to know which photos are important or not? They certainly aren’t going to wade through a bunch of digital hard drives once we’re gone.


What Can We Do to Save What Matters?

Sometimes we need to put down the phone! Get one or two shots of whatever it is that you want to remember whether it’s an event or something adorable your child is doing and then put the phone down and actually experience it. Odds are those images are just going to be sitting on the hard drive anyway never to be seen again. Be present. This act alone will cut down on so much digital clutter.

Schedule a routine time every month to clear out the digital files, reduce digital clutter and make sure the most important memories are preserved.

  1. Load your photos to your computer.
  2. Review each photo and video taken for the month.
  3. Create a folder for favorites and save one or two favorites from each month in that folder.
  4. Keep a favorites folder for each year.
  5. Print out each photo from your folder of favorites at least annually. Alternatively, a digital album for each year can be created and printed from your folder of favorites. Many photo sharing sites create books automatically for you.
  6. Save all digital files on your chosen backup storage method (external hard drive, web-based storage, etc).

The holidays are also a great time to revisit those old albums at your parent’s and grandparent’s houses and the perfect time to take those printed images and digitize them. Using a bulk scanning service like can save tons of time and make sure those memories last forever.


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