After seven years of using the Gmail account I created in 8th grade, I finally decided to switch over to a Gmail account that contains my real name. I wanted something more professional than my 8th grade silly alias. However, I still wanted to keep all my past archived emails in case I wanted to refer back to them in the future. So I set out to accomplish this task.

I downloaded an email application called Thunderbird, which enabled me to transfer over every single email I received from my old account to my new account. My emails dated back to 2005, racking up a count of 35,000; so, it took a considerable amount of time. During the seemingly never ending process, I perused through my old emails just for fun. I sifted through old homework assignments from class notes to essay drafts. I read short email conversations between my good friends and I. I scanned through numerous funny, nonsense messages my immature friends posted on my Facebook wall. I viewed random attached photos that were shared within the emails.

You know that nostalgic feeling you get when you flip through a photo album? Well, reading through my old emails was similar in a sense that it did produce nostalgic feelings, yet they provided something more. The emails not only allowed me to reminisce upon past memories the same way old photos do, but also enabled me to relive the small conversations I had with my friends and family. This was something that a photo could never do. Viewing past photos allows us to reminisce on the captured moment. It provides us a static moment and leaves our minds to hopefully recollect the memories surrounding that moment. However, reading an old email conversation provided a more dynamic experience. I was able to read through the conversation threads and hear them come to life, as if the text was sounding out the very voices of the persons. It was like sitting next to the old me, listening in on the conversation itself, instead of viewing it from a distance in the form of a framed photo.

I found it fascinating how Gmail was able to capture and store these moments that otherwise would have been utterly forgotten. I always hear people complaining putting something into the “cloud” and having it stored forever. I guess in this case it isn’t so bad. You’re essentially saving a unique conversation in memory that you will be able to look back upon with the same amount of detail.

Some food for thought on a related topic…

It is quite rare to see pictures of small daily activities that our parent’s generation partook on. They did not have the luxury of affordable DSLRs, point-and-shoots, or smart phones to capture every minuscule moment. Conversely, with the amount of miscellaneous photos uploaded through our smartphones to Facebook or Instagram, our kids would have a much more comprehensive view of our lives today. They would be able to see the utmost random-est things, from what we had for breakfast today, to the funny shirt we saw at the store, to that fantastic view of the rainbow that was in the sky today. I wonder what they will think of that.

Just an interesting thought.

In fact, it seems I have stumbled upon the ingenuity of Facebook’s Timeline feature. If you were an avid Facebook user, you’d be storing bits and pieces of your life daily on Facebook, allowing you to relive those moments in the future. I guess the only downside to Facebook, is that all your friends could potentially relive your moments too…