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Everything changes. Can you handle it?

We rely on technology in our daily lives, whether we like it or not. But what happens when something you take for granted disappears? Having lost his online memories, 44’s Tom Ives takes a look back in order to look forward…

Back in my student days before Facebook even existed, I used an innovative social network for clubbers called DontStayIn. It was a great place to post photos of your big night out, tag your friends, and store good memories online.

I met new people through the site, connected with DJs I liked, and even used it to promote gigs I ran with my friends. DontStayIn created a community of like-minded people. Most importantly, the memories captured on the site created a log of my four years at university in Birmingham.

Last week, something reminded me of the site so 12 years on, I typed in the URL to take a trip down memory lane – but it was gone. The business had been sold, with a new site replacing it. My archive of those four years was gone too, and I was gutted.

Time-hopping

When I want to check a particular date – an old holiday or wedding – I go straight to Facebook. And most mornings, the Timehop feature reminds me of what I was up to six, eight, or ten years ago. It reminds you of memories you might have forgotten.

Nowadays, I post on Facebook far less regularly than I did a few years ago. Distant friends and family saw my first daughter’s goofy grin, but for my second, I felt privacy was suddenly more important – so my network barely sees her. Because of this, in another five years there will be even less Time-hopping for me. And that’s really sad.

What’s more saddening is the realisation that, like DontStayIn, Facebook will eventually go away too. And even if it doesn’t vanish completely, it’s likely to remove the free and unlimited catalogue of memories it now offers.

Becoming unhooked

Google Mail, Facebook, LinkedIn and other similar businesses are so wonderfully convenient and commonplace that we take them for granted – and don’t realise how complex and expensive they are to provide. I’m hooked, as I’m sure many of you are too.

Like anything, the upside to these great, free tools is balanced by the downside – the fear of what happens when they eventually disappear.

So I’ve been looking at different ways of digitally storing my photographs and, while I’m still deciding on my favourite tech solution, I’ve also created something wonderfully analogue to go with them. Making a new photo album of just the very best holiday memories, along with sentimental captions has been surprisingly enjoyable and reassuringly permanent.

What happens next?

The truth is, in our amazing world of electric vehicles and artificial intelligence, our future online resources are likely to be better than what we have now. There’s so much potential in the world of digital, who would want to be left behind?

And when it comes to the lost memories, keep what you can but make sure you keep your arms open for new possibilities too.

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