A Note to My Past Self: Download Everything You Love

Find a way to keep everything you love in your digital life. You’ll miss it one day, trust me.

To my past self: Download everything you love
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As a teenager, besides not having the budget to call my girlfriend on my cell phone, I was a little boy hooked on Kenan & Kel, a lousy show I wouldn’t tolerate for over a minute today. However, this sitcom was almost aspirational for a fifteen-year-old at the turn of the century. Watching two guys from Chicago in the golden age of the Bulls do outrageous things and live in a chalet was something out of this world for someone from Torrent, Spain. It was one of those late '90s Nickelodeon shows, a battering ram of nostalgia that now has its own subreddit.

When I wasn’t watching shows like that, I was feeding my first website, a page full of nonsense made in Pobladores—a national precursor of Tumblr and Blogspot—full of trashy GIFs and with an pitiful name: Javi_Universe (Universo_Javi). But what could I do? I wasn’t even 13. At least I was learning HTML instead of just watching TV.

Today, I don’t have access to any of the stuff that marked my adolescence.

Who Can Guarantee That All This Stuff Will Still Be There Tomorrow?

The episodes of that show—typical of the times when I found everything funny— just like the pages of my chilld-ish website evoke another era with a different atmosphere, other worries, first heartbreaks, and much more than just content.

They remind us of things that will never come back, like old photo albums on our parents’ shelves, the silent witnesses of other lives always ready to take us back in time for a moment. The older you get, the more you enjoy those minutes with your family, repeating anecdotes and remembering those who are no longer with us. I want to feel that way when I think about digital memories.

But I have nothing—neither the episodes or the PDFs of Javi_Universe, nor any other kind of content from my first years on the Internet—because, at that time, I was too naive and assumed that everything online would last forever. Or worse, I didnt understand how much I would love what I had then in the future, even if it was ordinary.

I wanted to return to that stuff one day, but it was gone. When Lycos Spain—a European media company specializing in Internet-based content and services—bought and closed Pobladores, it felt like hearing “let’s talk.” Nothing was left. I learned that hosting files cost money and that parties can only last if people pay for them.

If you like a video, podcast, article, or WhatsApp conversation, save it. You might want to revisit those memories later.

If those moments had occurred during my growth spurt or when I was combing some gray hair, I would have undoubtedly saved more exciting things—like the first blogs I read, the early YouTube videos, the infamous but endearing Geocities websites, or the source code from when there were no WordPress plugins and one had to do the dirty work.

I had the chance to download them—sobs—then, but I didn’t because at that time I still believed everything was eternal on the Internet. And it isn’t. So, I learned that nothing lasts as long as what you have under your control and with backed up.

And that’s what I do now. I went from being a digital minimalist to becoming a hoarder, a Diogenes who accumulates everything that may have a small amount of meaning tomorrow or fifty years from now. I’m talking about photos and personal documents, but also an episode of a podcast I particularly enjoyed, a meaningful video, an article by someone I admire, or even those conversations that touch the depths of your soul.

If we take photos and videos of what happens in our physical lives and want to store them forever, why not do it with what happens in our digital lives? Long live accumulating memories and content that will be worth more later, my friends.

Image | Xataka and Midjourney

Related | How to See Old Versions of a Website: View Google’s Cached Pages or Visit Archive.org

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