Last weekend, the fatal combination of my iPhone, water and an accidental software update left me with an unresponsive phone and the crushing reality that I couldn’t remember the last time I had backed it up to my computer.
Call me crazy/overdramatic/first world problematic, but this is where the panic and immense urge to kick myself set in, for two reasons:
First, since the age I could operate a camera, pictures have been a huge part of my life. I have a 200gb photo library on my computer of photos I’ve taken since 2004 and I keep thousands on my phone. I’m not GOOD at taking pictures, but I relentlessly take them nonetheless. They immediately evoke memories; they take you back to times that would have easily been forgotten.
I snap photos of friends when the light hits them just right, I take selfies with my cats, I screenshot Snapchats that show off my favorite people’s weird personalities, I make gifs of my roommate running down the hallway, I shoot videos of ukulele parodies, I take panoramas of thousands of people in Memorial Stadium. I photograph to remember emotions, to remember jokes, to remember people, to remember huge plates of pancakes that I miraculously finished.
Second, I am no stranger to technology. I’ve owned an iPhone since its 2007 release, I have two external hard drives for my laptop, I’ve fixed friends’ spinning-beachball-of-doom computers and crashing phones. I know you need to backup your phone, but I lazily ignored the “unable to complete backup” error message. I know iCloud backups exist, but hated the idea of having all my information in the cloud. I know I should have a life proof case on my phone, but the case’s camera cover decreases the quality of photos. Which brings me back to my heartache of the week:
I have no pictures from September 9, 2015 to December 5, 2015. A semester of concerts, hiking, traveling, working, laughing, studying, living:
erased drowned. (Water damage is real, friends.)
After I had a shiny new rose gold phone in my hands and I discovered this news, my mind raced to all of the places I could recover these memories: Does Jillian save all the pictures I send her? Does VSCOcam save the photos I uploaded to edit? Are we sure Google/Apple/U.S. Government hasn’t been secretly saving all my pictures somewhere?
So here they are: the salvaged remnants of my junior year of college. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly (I’m looking at you, passport photo.)
I’ll never recover the video of me rapping “Love the Way You Lie,” or the pictures from when I met George Lucas. I can’t scroll through hundreds of photos that tell the story of my 5th semester at Mizzou. I ditched my fears of internet insecurity and signed up for an iCloud backup.
And most importantly, I’ve accepted the fact that even without photo documentation, these people, this semester, this life, is still as memorable as I could ever hope.