This is a retro-post from a newsletter once associated with a previous email address I’d been using. Uploading here for archival purposes so it’s not lost when I stop paying for the old address.
What’s the last thing you tossed or deleted for good? Utterly. Irrevocably. Irretrievably.
I’ve been yeeting old photos recently, as the kids would say. Sending media in my endless library to the electron bin to be written over with zeros. It’s scary but cathartic. I don’t want to accidentally delete something I’ll wish I’d kept. I also don’t want to have tens of thousands of photos that make vivid memories feel more mediocre in their natural light. How does one choose what to cull?
Don’t start with the low-hanging fruit. Start with the fruit that’s already hit the dirt and gotten rotten. Any and nearly every photo or video of a concert. Cute animals you’ve snapped but don’t hold a place in your heart. Landscapes for the sake of landscapes. All things blurry.
I keep photos of good meals I’ve made or ordered to re-activate past salivary sensations. They remind me what to rediscover in the kitchen—not Instagramable photos (I don’t have an account), just plain birds-eye shots. All photos with people I care about stay, besides bushels of alike snaps which I pare down to one. Some trip scenery is left for context. Almost anything I chuckle at makes the cut, knowing I can share the chuckle later.
I’m still going through my Photos library now. Down to 21,917 photos and 2,489 videos from some 30k a month ago. It’s slimming slowly. I periodically back up my computer just in case, but otherwise the cruddy, culled memories fade away after sitting in the Recently Deleted bin for some 40 days. The time they sit in limbo is ample enough for a quick scan the day after a chopping spree to see if there’s anything I have second thoughts about—which sometimes, I do.
Knowing I’ve queued frozen snippets of time for the electronic event horizon is unsettling. But once they’re gone, sweet honeysuckle it feels good. Clean. Cleansed. Condensed.
Press yeet, dear friend, and delete.