The end of an analog life

analog lifeBy Mark Schaefer

I’m going to take a break from the usual stream of marketing tips, tricks, and observations here on {grow} to get a little personal and weird. I think that is good once in a while, right?

This week I have been forced to come face-to-face with the end of my analog life … and it is distressing.

I am preparing to make a house move. And, in fact, with the kids out of the house, it’s time to downsize. That means there is no more room for a lifetime of accumulated crap.

As I write this, I am facing a mountain of my “analog” treasures — record albums, CDs. yearbooks, books, boxes of photo albums, newspaper clippings, letters, work samples of magazines I edited decades ago. Boxes and boxes and boxes.

And I have had two revelations.

1) It all must go.

2) I really don’t want it to go.

Even after giving away what I can, I have already filled two garbage bins with my treasures.  And with each toss, a little piece of me dies. Yes, I am sad that I have entered a phase of my life dedicated to removing, rather than accumulating. But there is something much deeper going on here.

baby pictureFirst, I am realizing that I am the final generation that will ever face this problem. I am part of a near-extinct species who has an extensive paper record of our lives. Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. Judging by the garbage bin, I have killed a lot of trees in my life. But there is something more visual, more human … and more cool … about these big photo albums, ticket stubs, and hand-written letters from old girlfriends. For people growing up today, all of these things will be relegated to a file on a smart phone or an upload to “the cloud.” Our tactile days are coming to an end.

willie stargellSecond, I’m sad because I’m realizing that nobody really knows, or cares about any of this.  Here’s this mountain of … stuff. At some point in my life every single scrap was important and amazing in some way. And when I toss it in the trash, the world will be exactly the same. My pile, my memories, my life … gone in a poof. My babies, my pets, my friends, my loves, my bands, my jobs, my cars, my homes, my awards, my travels. Poof.

I’m sure these are feelings experienced to some extent by anyone who reaches this life stage. Hey, I’m lucky I made it this far!

But there is still something chilling and profound about being the last of my kind who will ever have to throw his life away forever … piece by lovely, tattered, beautiful piece.

By the way, after reading today’s post, one of my Twitter followers sent me this advertisement.  Seems to capture the sentiment in a perfect, and hilarious way!


Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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