The human sensorium perpetually replenishes its abundance. Life is much of a muchness, as the Dormouse said. If you want to drive someone crazy, literally, close the windows and draw the blinds on his senses. Starved, the brain eats itself.
To be replenished, experience must be disposable. The cup must be emptied to be refilled. Most of what we see and hear and smell and touch and taste, most of what we say and do, is quickly forgotten. Experience evaporates, leaving at most a smudged trace in memory. What matters is what happens, not what happened.
The evanescence of experience is joy. Beauty is pied and fleeting, fickle and freckled. Vitality is motion. But in that unceasing cycle of disposal and replenishment lies melancholy, too, a foretaste of our final leave-taking. There’s a part of the mind that rebels, that wants to save everything, to pile up experience’s goods as a kind of barricade against mortality. It doesn’t work. The record of experience becomes a record of loss and of decay. Every memento turns into a memento mori. Around the hoarder sadness thickens.
Our newfound ability to turn everyday experience into stored data gives another turn to the old screw. It ratchets up the tension between the natural and necessary disposability of experience and the vain but understandable desire to make experience permanent, to never let it go. The egoist and the solipsist outfit themselves with cameras and microphones and scanners, spend their days recording everything. By definition, their experiences are invaluable. Like bars of gold, each one must be kept in a vault.
Only oddballs go to such extremes. Life-logging is the trend that never happened. Most of us are happy that experience is disposable. We want the next experience, not the last one. Even for those who are always pulling out their phones to snap pictures or shoot videos, to text or tweet or tumble or otherwise share the moments of their being, the pleasure lies mainly in the recording, not in the record. The act of recording is itself a disposable experience. The tools for recording and sharing are disposable as well. They get old.
This is a problem for those who operate social networks or otherwise have a financial stake in our record-keeping. They want nothing more than to turn us all into sad hoarders, to have us care as much about the record of the experience as about the experience itself. They want us to live retrospectively, to think about our lives as a Timeline. But we frustrate them. We get bored with the record. We flock to the new experience, the new tool, and the more disposable the better: IM, blog, text, tweet, gif, pin, instagram, snap, vine. Words and sounds and images on the wind. Here and gone.
You can’t catch us, no matter how hard you try. Your schemes are joyless, and they’re doomed.