The thought of my children seeing me underage at a Halloween party scantily dressed with an ‘ accidentally’ ill-concealed bottle of alcohol does sometimes cause me to cringe and think, “oh so this is one of those photos I’ll regret in the future.” Yet the thought lasts for a mere five seconds until the much more sentimental response of “but that was such a good night… oh well, future me problem,” takes over and I decide the photo isn’t deserving of deletion. Diagnosis: Archive Fever! Yes that is correct…I’m a memory hoarder. I never intended my life to be chronologically archived for the world to see but as Matthew Ogle notes, “We’ve all become accidental archivists; our burgeoning digital archives open out of the future” (Ogle 2010) I have a tendency to become emotionally attached to those moments in time, storing them in the archive of my life, Facebook. I have an irrational fear that removing them will lead to their permanent deletion from history into the dark abyss of lost experiences and forgotten achievements.
As Jacques Derrida explains, archives form the basis for what matters in society and even our sense of selves. Derrida describes my illness perfectly in Archive Fever: A Freudian Expression. “It is to have a compulsive, repetitive, and nostalgic desire for the archive, an irrepressible desire to return to the origin, a homesickness, a nostalgia for the return to the most archaic place of absolute commencement.” (Derrida 1998 pp. 91.) Some days I find myself scrolling down my timeline in search of a picture, a memory, a moment in time when some aspect of my life began. I’m constantly plagued with the desire to remember it, re-live it and possibly re-regret it, through my perfectly ordered and reliable digital timeline.
My archive is full of my desires, or as Facebook would like to call them, things that I “like.” Whether they be memes, the worlds craziest videos or a friends photo album, it is a picture of me, who I am and what I place important. As a PR student however, I am well aware that image is everything, somewhat unfortunately, in our society. One can tell more than you think about someone through their Facebook, not only through the things they like but from their patterns of use, communication and most importantly, what is left out. “The Archive is made from selected and consciously chosen documentation from the past and also from the mad fragmentations that no one intended to preserve and just ended up there.” (Steedman 2002 pp. 68) Facebook is a very constructed archive in which we portray a composed window into our lives. Yet as Steedman adds “mad fragmentations” (the occasional drunken pool party photos) do somehow sneak their way in, without which the archive would not be complete nor accurate.
Apparently there is an option to use nostalgic music too, love it!
Derrida, Jacques (1996) Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
[online] Ogle, Matthew (2010) ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’,mattogle.com, December 16, < http://mattogle.com/archivefever/ >
Steedman, C (2002) Dust: The Archive and Cultural Histroy, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press