I like things I can hold, touch, feel, smell, see etc. etc. You get the drift. But lately one thing that has been bothering me (and that might be primarily because I am kind of old fashioned and like some things the good old way) is that, increasingly a lot of our stuff is becoming intangible. And by stuff I mean things we buy and keep with fondness because there are milestones, memories and moments associated with them. So, while audio cassettes replaced LPs, and CDs replaced audio cassettes, and now cloud has replaced CDs, it has also replaced the involvement of going into a music store, laboriously going through the music shop to find the cassette or CD, saving money for it in school or college, and then getting it home out of the cover and listening to it over and over again, lugging it around when one moved to the hostel and back and then wherever one moved. And then a time came to replace the old technology with the new form of this technological progression.
Today, if I am missing a song and want to listen to it all I have to do is go to my apple music account and download it or have it as part of my monthly subscription. So easy, yet I find it so impersonal.
Human beings by nature like memories and looking back upon them every now and then. And nostalgia is hand in glove with memories. Look all around us, taking pictures constantly, of things, places, people we love. What else are we doing but creating memories…memories to look back on. I came across this quote while reading something about nostalgia and then connecting that with my discomfort of things becoming intangible and the fact that I am re-reading “Immortality” at the moment, my discomfort began to make sense.
“Nostalgia can lend us much-needed context, perspective, and direction, reminding and reassuring us that our life (and that of others) is not as banal as it may seem, that it is rooted in a narrative, and that there have been—and will once again be—meaningful moments and experiences.” – Neel Burton M.D.
Having read the excerpt above I realized that all the “things” that we accumulate and some of it that we keep is the narrative of who we are, what we like and what we hold precious. Those are also the things that once we die will help make others some sense of us. Someone going through the books that we bought and kept, seeing the boarding cards tucked away in them, or name, date and city scribbled that tells the person when and where we bought it. Going through the pictures that are found in an envelope because there were too many to be framed, some pictures which never made it to social media, the music in the form of CDs, LPs…all the stuff that can be touched, seen, and felt. The stuff, that makes us tangible even if we are gone, the stuff that makes us slightly immortal in our own little world.
Those things will suggest our thought process and what we enjoyed and who knows what someone may learn or take away from that. But given the intangibility trend who will bother to go through the Kindle that we bought for convenience and see what we were reading and what was the pattern in our preference or log onto the music and pictures library to see what were those experiences or people or words that influenced us. The things others will look at and think, “Hey, never imagined Shaifali would ever listen to this!” or fight over who should take what book or music CD.
So while technology has started to make life more convenient for a while now so that we have more opportunities to experience things with ease and much more immediacy, it is also replacing our invisible form, our invisible form that lasts a little longer than our tangible selves. Things that will be shared and hopefully will make another person go through a journey much like ours or different.