This Day in History – October 11, 2001

The Polaroid Corporation files for federal bankruptcy protection

By Christine Boynton, Commentary Co-Editor

A picture’s worth a thousand words. If that’s the case, it’s a good thing I don’t print out my digital pictures–with a ratio of one thousand to one, I’d be completely overwhelmed.

Fewer and fewer people I know use film-based cameras more often than digitals. In fact, when I came across my old analog camera, long forgotten in a desk drawer, I had to dig through a layer of cassette tapes, floppy disks, and a Mission: Impossible VHS. Wow, remember when Tom Cruise was sane?

Though it’s arguably easier to use, convenient to review pictures, and boasts impressive storage abilities, the age of digital cameras feels like the end of an era. I don’t usually take the time to print out my pictures. Instead they get uploaded, and stored in a folder on my desktop. If they’re lucky, a select few make their way into Facebook albums.

I have a bookshelf lined with photo albums, once chronicling major life events: summer camp, holidays and a long string of disastrous family vacations. They stop abruptly sometime in the late 90’s, which is where my computer’s photo folders pick up.

This isn’t to say that scrapbooks and photo albums are totally a thing of the past. I do know several people who should be earning frequent crafter points from Michaels. The scrapbooking sections normally need restocking after they return from vacation. The point is, we no longer need to print out those photos to showcase our memories.

As a young child, I remember flipping through the photo albums in our living room. My parents would show me pictures of the relatives I hadn’t ever met, pictures of me as an infant, and pictures that proved they had once been young victims of 80s fashion. Looking back on this, I feel a pang of sentimentality.

I once asked my mother what material possession she’d try to save, in the event of a house fire. She didn’t even have to think-the photo albums. Well, cyberspace isn’t in any immediate danger of going up in smoke, but will our Shutterfly, Snapfish, and DotPhoto albums be treasured possessions in the way the albums are for our parents?

In 20 years, sitting in our own living rooms, will we be lovingly uploading photos from the past to show the next generation?

I know that it’s up to me to quell this technological guilt. So maybe I’ll make a conscious effort to print out a few pictures, possibly put together an album or two. It’s time to start physically preserving memories of days gone by.

But for now, maybe I’ll just put them on Facebook.