A few weeks ago, I opened my phone and got that dreaded message once again: “Your storage is almost full.” Argh! It’s the spam call of phone notifications—unwelcome and relentless. However, I can’t pretend like that pop-up was a total surprise. As of this writing, I have 41,000 photos and 1,000 videos saved on my phone. I’m using 200 GB of iCloud storage and over 60 GB of Google storage. I’ve even got dusty old phones under my bed with photos and text messages that I didn’t have room for anymore on my current device. I know, I know…it’s bad.
I’ve become a digital hoarder, but I’m certainly not the only one. Scientists warn that we won’t have enough global data space by 2025, and I can believe it. Right now, my photos and text messages, which take up most of my digital storage (let’s not even get started on emails) date back to around 2015—nearly a decade ago. What happens in 2065 when I’m trying to save 50 years’ worth of storage? Where will it all go? And more crucially, why is digital recordkeeping so important to me?
As a zillennial (someone who was born in the late ’90s, on the cusp of being a millennial and Gen Z), my entire life has been digitized. Sure, when I was young, my mom still printed out photos at Costco and pasted them into family scrapbooks. But when it comes to my personal documentation, it all began with my first iPhone. Scrolling through my camera roll is like digging through the junk bin at Goodwill. Drag your finger to somewhere in 2019 and you might stumble upon a screenshot of a Tinder profile of someone I matched with and never messaged back, or perhaps it was an influencer doing something totally cringe that I cattily sent to my friends. There’s also, of course, the countless obligatory shots of the moon—always terrible, always blurry. Why can’t I learn my lesson?