Kids these days and our grown-up tendency towards permanence

Chris Messina had a generational crisis on his hands when another Chris, Chris Kellly (yes, 3 l’s) gave him a hard time about his (Messina’s) Instagram username: @chris. You should spend a few minutes reading the comments on Messina’s Instagram photo quickly.

The younger Chris was pretty put out by the older Chris refusing to relinquish his (Messina’s) much shorter username and the older Chris had what he called a “#getoffmylawn moment” and wrote about it in his article “I’m too old for Instagram“:

I recognize I’m having a #getoffmylawn moment here, but if I was born on Instagram back when it was still called Burbn, doesn’t that give me some kind of implicit property rights? Can’t I live out my old age in serenity, posting pretty photos that I think are kind of modern and arty (if not a little cliché), like David Hockney with his iPad, without the young’uns dancing on my grave before I’ve been cremated and scattered to the ocean?

I mean, really.

I had to laugh. I’ve had more and more of those moments. The younger Chris’ attitude isn’t really surprising to me, that sense of entitlement comes with the territory when you are young and believe the world owes you (I’m pretty sure every generation had that sense). This younger generation also doesn’t seem to have much attachment to their day to day lives either. As Messina puts it:

Ah, but these kids don’t give a damn for history. They’ve never wanted for anything, and living in the age of Snapchat, they stick with Instagram only because their friends are there, not because it’s better. They’d just as soon have their photos deleted immediately after the LOLs have been had, rather than leave a trail of their weed-smoking, bootie-busting selfies for geezers like me to creep on. Not that I judge, mind you.

On one hand, I can appreciate that emphasis on the moment and letting go of those moments as they pass but, on the other hand, what about archiving those moments for the next generation? There is huge value in that too and its what drives me to capture and archive as much of our lives as I can. My medium is primarily photos but my writing is also a part of my archive, my legacy for my children and their children.

Sure, a lot of what I capture is pretty mundane, highly contextual and not especially relevant outside the moments themselves but it is a representation of my life and my experiences and my children may appreciate the opportunity to learn more about me from my perspective when they are older. Perhaps their children will want to know more about who came before them and this is one way to do that.

This is why I have an aversion to trusting a 3rd party service with all of my stuff. My stuff has intrinsic value to me because it is a part of a growing body of documentation about my life and experiences and while that may not have value for people who don’t know me, it could be invaluable for my children and descendants.

Somehow we should strike a balance between the tendency to live in that moment and let it vanish and preserve those moments without remaining too attached to them. I don’t know how to strike that balance. I am probably too attached to my archive, emotionally, than I should be but perhaps a little neurosis is necessary to protect history.

On the other hand, kids these days …


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