“Doesn’t the World Cup seem ages ago?” “Yeah, it does,” came the reply.
“I finished my sticker book though.”
“Did you?” “Yeah. It’s in the attic now, with all the others.”
There you have a sample of the kind of erudite conversations we have in the newsroom. This particular verbal volley would not have seemed out of place as a script penned by the much-missed comedy genius Caroline Aherne. It did spark some debate though, about what happens to such “treasures” and how, in the digital age, we have greatly increased our footprint on this earth.
I questioned World-cup sticker-book man (for this will now be his name) over his right to fill the attic with such content. He’s a dad you see, so at some point either he, or importantly those that survive him, will have to decide what to do with all the stuff which meant so much to him. “You’re just storing up guilt for your kids,” I said, speaking as someone who has, alas, already had experience sifting through the remains of other lives and the painful decisions that go with that.
We all concluded we should be brave enough to rid ourselves of this emotional (and physical) baggage long before we departed, so the kids could get on with grieving, rather than worrying about skip hire. “Ah,” said sticker-book man, “But what about our Facebook sites and things like that?” Aye, there’s the rub. The Victorians had strict rules for death but we have no such agreed periods of mourning for Facebook sites, Instagram feeds, digital photo collections or texts. It’s a serious point, there should be some opt-in button to erase your digital existence when you die, or the infinite space of technology will just be a giant attic of memories for the future generations to deal with.