We have an old desktop computer at the house that is probably ten or fifteen years old. It never gets used anymore. I have a laptop and my wife uses an iPad so between these two gadgets and our iPhone’s the desktop just takes up space.
I haven’t gotten rid of it because the hard drive is filled with pictures. If you remember, once upon a time, we all had digital cameras with a little chip that got full. Rather than just deleting the pictures of fingers, toes and the ground to make more room on the camera my wife and kids would just dump everything on the chip to the desktop. I don’t know how many pictures are on there. I don’t know why someone in my family would label a folder “Today” or “Before Project” or even “Saturday” but I have neither the patiences, time or enough beer to go through and clean the picture folder up.
So when my youngest called looking for a specific photograph of her and a friend who has just gotten engaged from ions ago I cringed. But being the good, push-over Dad that I am I told her I would “attempt” to find it for her. When I asked if she could give me any specifics about the picture and maybe a timeframe she said a party in high school. Yea, that helped.
As I tried to figure out a way to narrow my search parameters to find one silly picture my ADD kicked-in and I decided to look at my old Outlook contacts. Now this database goes back several years, maybe twenty or so. It is filled with not only business contacts but friends and family as well. But scrolling down I discovered something, something that has happened over the last twenty years, people have died. A lot of people have died.
Charlie, Cheryl, Richard, Art, Sara, Mike, Donna, Tommy all gone. Some have been dead for many years, others passed away more recently. Many I loved dearly. Others I simply had a business relationship with, but all once occupied some amount of space in my life and that space is now vacant.
Looking at this list of names I thought back to each one and how easily I had forgotten many of them. Some like Charlie I think about often but others I haven’t thought about in years. I occasionally run into Art’s wife at the store which provides me with a flood of memories. But I had forgotten about Cheryl, a client who turned into a friend after working with her for years. Cheryl died of lung cancer five years ago and I hadn’t thought about her in ages until I saw her name on this list and that made me sad.
It is thought that if Facebook stays at its current pace, and nobody cleans up the database like I haven’t cleaned up our picture files, that by the year 2065 there will be more profiles of dead people on Facebook than living, and breathing ones posting pictures of their cats. Of Facebook’s one billion users, 10,000 or so of them die everyday. So those “Happy Birthday” wishes my Dad sends to one of his 750 “friends”, yea right, could be simply falling onto “dead” ears and he will never even know.
I wonder if there is anything positive or redeeming about having this “digital graveyard” out there. Possibly for the families of these lost souls it is but it would certainly seem to complicate the business component of Facebook at some point. I guarantee this little design flaw is on Mark Zuckerberg’s radar screen.
As I went through my list staring at Cheryl’s and Art’s contact information part of me wanted to delete them. I have always adhere to the mantra of Shit in shit out (SISO) to keep databases and file folders like these up to date. But I couldn’t. These were wonderful people, people who once, a long-time ago, occupied a special place in my life. Space that I made available to them as they made available to me. If they deserve to remain in my heart they certainly deserve a Byte on my hard drive.