Quality. Commitment. Madness and charisma. Reinvention. Mystery. Our examination of things that stand the test of time – people, places, products, brands – has unearthed many ways to engender longevity.
Of course the best way to make anything happen is to really, really desire it. And our desire to leave behind a legacy is deep and true and is a powerful human force.
It’s why people collect things.
It’s why people write things down.
It’s why people take pictures of things.
It’s why we procreate.
It’s why we post all of the abovementioned on Facebook.
As human beings we believe that leaving a legacy, a breadcrumb trail record of our existence, is somehow the key to immortality – the ultimate in longevity. That the stamp collections and baseball cards and journals and love letters that survive us will somehow be proof that we’ve trumped the grim reaper after all.
Recently, we have become virtual horders. Our impulse to collect has been redirected from objects to images of objects. It began humbly with A Collection A Day (Blogspot) and Things Neatly Organized (Tumblr), and has lately culminated in the frothy rise of Pinterest. We curate clusters of beautifully photographed objects and get to enjoy stuff without actually having stuff. Which is particularly handy in the face of an economic downturn. [Although it’s a little like opening a fire hydrant on the sidewalk in order to enjoy a beach experience.]
While accumulating stuff, or pictures of stuff, may help us feel immortal, we are, in fact, not. In the same way that you may not know exactly what to do with your grandmother’s extensive collection of pincushions, the question now arises as to the fate of our blog entries, Facebook pages, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, even our tweets and our avatars after we die. They are our digital legacy. Or, viewed another way, our digital detritus.
Contemplating mortality is a bummer. As a result, only about a third of Americans have a will. So it is not surprising that few of us have given any thought at all to our digital afterlives. The folks at TheDigitalBeyond.com, however, have given it some thought and think they see a revenue opportunity. But most of us, for now, simply put our faith in the power of legacy to ensure us some measure of immortality, or at least longevity. We collect, we write, we take pictures, we procreate. And then we tell the whole wide world about it.
Lather, rinse, repeat.