You know what’s scary? How big the internet is. It’s huge. It’s so huge, there’s no way to definitively measure it and have that figure be accurate for long.
So if you misplace a webpage and it doesn’t come up on the first page of google, it can feel like misplacing a child in Ikea.
When you lose something on the internet, you have two options. One is defeatist:
“I’m definitely never going to find that ever ever again,”
and one is blindly confident:
“I KNOW IT’S OUT THERE.”
This uncomfortable choice of attitudes will lead people to take all sorts of precautions. I myself, over the period of a couple months, chose to bookmark every webpage or I ever enjoyed or thought I might enjoy at some point.
That worked until I had to scroll through pages as long as the Count of Monte Christo to find that one gif I liked four days ago. I still haven’t deleted them all and honestly, I barely have the energy to try.
A lot of websites include a “like” function that lets you save things for later. What a thoughtful idea! Until you have 13.1 thousand likes and you know you put something in there just, like, a week ago that would totally come in handy right now if onLY YOU COULD FIND IT
I once searched for a specific comment on a Reddit thread for an intensely focused thirty minutes. This wouldn’t even be that bad, but I was at a party at the time. I was literally talking with someone at a party and interrupted myself to pull out my phone and say, “No wait, I’ve got to find it first.”
(Honestly that story makes the potentially well-balanced adult inside of me cry)
I once searched for a specific recipe for two and a half years before I found it. Given, it wasn’t near as intense a search as it was for the elusive reddit comment. But I started searching the day after I enjoyed a hastily-found internet recipe at a friend’s house, and I finished a year and a half after she had moved on, gotten married and moved house.
It wasn’t even all that good a recipe, to be honest. Not enough seasoning.
Anyway, my point is that I totally bookmarked that page anyway. I still have it bookmarked, just in case I want to relive a mediocre meatball experience in a weak effort to recapture a day that is now almost four years ago.
Because losing things is terrifying.
Webpages and images like the ones that I “like” on tumblr are supposed to be silly little nodes of entertainment, but whether or not I can find them again is still supposed to be something under my control and, though I screw up most of the things that are under my control, I still want something to be charge of, and if all that is is a difficult guitar tab for a song I no longer enjoy, then so be it, that thing is staying in my favorites folder until a sun flare burns up my laptop.
Losing things is terrifying. Letting go of unimportant things is meant to be this liberating experience, but it makes me feel like I’m dumping valuables in the trash and ever waiting for someone to come around and say
“Where did [insert thrown away item here] go?”
“Oh, that. I tossed it because I am unspeakably bad at processing consequences.”
This is a vivid example of why nostalgia is very threatening to me. Nostalgia is a sort of homesickness for a home that is no longer yours, because time is always going on. There are places and times you’re never going to return to, and that sounds so hopeless to me.
But it can’t be hopeless, can it? Nothing is really hopeless, even though I tell myself they are. After all, if I was able to go back and work in a moment I’d lived before, I would destroy it. (That’s kind of how I do) I would graffiti it with my escapist attitude and it would never be the same. As it is, I get new moments all the time. I’m making new mistakes because I know not to make the old ones.
I will have my new moments and I will make them what my old ones couldn’t be. I’ll get over the website I found mildly entertaining a couple of months ago. Not everything is in reality what it is in hindsight – and that’s okay.
To be clear, I’m not going to close this edit-post window and clear out all my bookmarks immediately. I am, however, going to delete a couple at a time. And you know what? I’m still going to save the meatball recipe, because they were fun to make, and I really believe I can make them tastier. Because all my moments are new ones, and things can keep getting better as long as I can keep trying to improve things.
Have a really good day, and please, for the love of your sanity, keep all your bookmark folders full of important things.