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Imagine if Facebook existed in the 1950’s:

This Anne Taintor-esque video got me thinking about  how our romantic relationships have evolved in the digital age.

Allow me to break it down:

A typical love story circa 1991

Boy meets Girl.  Boy asks for Girl’s phone number.  Boy calls Girl.  Boy leaves message.  Girl calls Boy (after waiting a day just to make him sweat.)  Boy asks Girl out.  Girl says yes.  Boy meets Girl at the movies.  Or the mall.  Or the arcade.  Boy and Girl hold hands.  Boy kisses Girl.  Girl goes home to write in her diary and draw pink hearts next to Boy’s name.  Girl stares at the phone willing it to ring… (Boy is probably doing the same.)

This is how it was back in my day.

No Instant Messages.  No text messages.  We had conversations voice-to-voice, and  in person.  You know, when we weren’t gazing romantically at each other (and by gazing romantically at each other, I really mean making out.)

Romance blossomed over the phone – tone, inflection, nuance were carried through live wire.  The phone made it easy to feel connected and stay connected.  And ultimately, to disconnect: All my breakups were done over the phone.  Sure, while face-to-face is the “mature” way to go, when feelings are fragile, the phone made it less messy.

(And hey, more intimate than a post-it note.)

Falsh-forward twenty years.

A typical love story circa 2011

Boy Facebook-stalks Girl. (Or Girl Facebook-stalks Boy) Boy pokes Girl. (Or Girl pokes Boy.)  Boy pokes Girl.  Girl pokes Boy. Etc… ad nauseum.  (And all of this without a steak dinner!) Boy and Girl finally get around to friending eachother.  (And it’s about time! I mean, after all, they’ve been poking for a while now.)  Boy and Girl chat on Facebook into the wee hours of the morning for several nights. (They share a lot of LOL’s.) Boy and Girl exchange phone numbers.  Boy texts Girl.  (Or Girl texts Boy.) Boy texts Girl.  Girl texts Boy.  Boy pocket-dials Girl.  Boy texts Girl: “w2ho” Girl knows this is text-speak for “Want to hang out?” and she replies “wen” (because typing that extra letter and the question mark take waaay too much effort and/or make it look like she’s trying too hard.)  Boy and Girl go on a date.  Boy and Girl check in on FourSquare.  Boy and Girl change respective Facebook relationship statuses.  And the chats and the messages and the pokes fly over cyberspace.

“XOXO” and “I <3 U” fill the spaces on the screen.

Until they don’t.

Breaking up is hard to do.  But on Facebook, with a click and a drag, it becomes very easy.  Remember when Matt Damon blew off Minnie Driver on Oprah?  Well, it can happen to anyone – on a smaller scale, but still.  When a relationship ends, 1123 of  your closest friends will know about it.  But the good news is that hottie from your econ class who is lurking your page knows it, too.

Memories in a Digital World

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Four months ago I went through a life changing experience: My first daughter was born, and I fell immediately in-love with the little adorable baby that became an important part of our (now mostly sleepless) life.

From the moment she was born, my wife and I photograph and videotape her, using our iPhones, and our DSLR camera.

At the same time my parents aren’t getting younger. My father turned 72 this year, and my mother 66. On his 70th birthday, I made a short film about him, as an excuse to both hear and document the story of his life. We went through old photographs that were lying in our living room drawers, and with each picture came a story, about love, war, family, and friendship. Most of these pictures were older than me –from the 50s and 60s — telling the story of his life as an immigrant, young tank commander, husband, and young father.

Not surprisingly, I love gadgets, applications, and great sites. That’s why I upload my daughter’s pictures to Flickr and Facebook, and save all of them in our centralized media hub, and I also back it up using Dropbox. I use Twitter, Foursquare and to tell the story of my life – places I’ve been at, songs I’ve heard, thoughts I’ve had at a specific point in time.

Up until now, I was certain this is enough. We have all those cameras with their amazing images, those fancy video cameras, these smartphones that are actually point and shot cameras that can also call people. But something is missing:
When you look at it from an historical perspective, all these sites and gadgets lose their sex appeal. The reason is simple – in 40 years perspective, suddenly Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, hard disks and iPhones seem like not the best way to store memories.

I don’t know what will happen with Apple, Yahoo!, Twitter and Facebook 40 years from now.
I don’t know if the images I am taking now will be compatible with the technology 20 years from now.
I don’t know if my media center’s hard disk will survive the next 5 years.
And maybe, just maybe, Dropbox will go out of business.

There is a missing link in our digital age. There is a crucial element that is not guaranteed in our advanced technological environment. It is a simple thing: the physical element of our memories. The real life scrap book. The image, printed on a paper.

Yes, I know, these physical representation of our memories can be lost or destroyed. In fact, history teaches us that the physical element of our memories could be easily destroyed (such was the case of the Library of Alexandria).

However, if there is one thing that is for certain, it is that we will be able to see the pictures of our lives in the future. It is not a matter of file formats, web applications, and smartphones. Our eyes will still be able to see pictures. Our fingers will still be able to feel the aging paper they are printed on.

Think about it, next time you look at your hard disk full of those priceless images of your life.