With three bedrooms for only two people, I carved out a nice office space. My DVDs were proudly displayed, alphabetized by director. My computer’s second monitor was a 42″ plasma. Surround sound and black-out curtains created a cocoon in which I could insulate myself from the throes of pending adulthood.
Pending gives way to irrevocable.
I stand in the same room, emptying the last bookcase of DVDs and books, transforming the long neglected man cave into a nursery for my second child. Many of the books have been crated for goodwill, others are stacked awaiting their reassignment to various nooks in house. The DVDs have been field stripped: discs into a DVD album, while the paper and cardboard have been sorted for recycling. The CD cases and linear notes that I’ve had stored in a closet for years in hopes that one day they would get their day on a shelf.. they’re gone too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a depressing scene. This is stuff that should have been shed years ago and only with a living purpose have I gotten off my ass to fully and finally shed my pubescence. I am happy to be rid of some crap and create a great living space for my son.
But I’m not the only one getting old.
Ten years ago I bought CDs and DVDs by the grip. Five years ago I scaled it back.. bought only the top shelf stuff (Criterion Collections and Deluxe reissues). Now I don’t buy anything. The heaps of plastic and paper compared to the small stack of amnestied cases (some of the packaging is just too inventive to scrap, others are my favorite flicks in clamshells) is truth. Most of what I’ve purchased is garbage. Vinyl albums are big. VHS cassettes are big. The sheer size needed for analog media is very much a throwback to a time before miniaturization. Things started shrinking, and in a big fucking way. Twelve inches square down to twelve centimeters square, now down to… nothing. Physically packaged media is clearing it’s throat for a death rattle.. and it’s my fault. I grew out of it. I grew out of wanting it. I grew out of buying it. I don’t have the time or the space for physical media. Streaming or downloadable content is quicker, it’s easier, it’s more sustainable.
Is it a coincidence that right when I needed media to be easier to get, to consume, and to store it became easier to get, consume, and store? Did it happen because I needed it to? Or did it happen and then I adapted to it, happily, and unknowingly? Or maybe I’m looking at it through the wrong prism. I am very happy to have podcasts, music, documents, and photos in the cloud, but perhaps I shouldn’t be. Maybe my life would be richer if I DIDN’T have media at my fingertips. Instead of searching through my phone while my daughter is taking a bath, I’d be more engaged in playtime with her. I also remember feeling a more tangible connection to my music when I was buying CDs, and maybe for the same reason. While listening to a CD I was probably more focused on the act of listening to it, or flipping through the booklet, or discovering hidden maps, than I am now. Or maybe it’s really all about money–physical media is more expensive! If you have to spend a lot of money on something, do you then enjoy it more, simply because of the cost? If so, I’m really going to love my kiddos!