Why I Decided to Delete My Cell Phone Photos (9/99)


That’s how many photos were on my phone.

Until I deleted them a few minutes ago.

On purpose.

Last week I got a new phone.  (“They don’t even make this model anymore!” the barely-old-enough-to-shave-looking Verizon Solutions Specialist said about my four year old antique.)

I was not interested. Wasn’t even thinking about one until The Girl’s phone cracked and, since she’s 14, a replacement needed to be procured in post and in haste.

So, off to the Verizon store we went, only to discover that her phone was kaput.

After dealing with the insurance particulars, I handed over mine.

“The headphone jack stopped working last week,” I explained. “Is there anything we can do about that?”

There was. It’s called an upgrade. No thanks, I quickly said.  I’ll live. But what’s that you say?  It’s technically a replacement too, with no charge, no change in plan? You sure about that? Come to think of it, the phone has been running slow and the charging jack thingie needs to be held a certain way and …oh, sure, what the hell.

Lo and behold, two replacement phones arrived in the mail within days and we returned to the Verizon store for Activation.

Like we were superheroes or something.

Yeah, not so much. Nearly three hours later, we were still there, waiting, waiting, and waiting some more for my information to migrate over to the new phone. We’d gotten all the contacts but the hang up was —

You guessed it.

My 4,050 photos.

Fortunately, I had downloaded a bunch several days prior and those that were the most memorable have been shared on Facebook anyway.  Still, I couldn’t just delete them.  I needed make sure they had all downloaded, that I really did have them somewhere.

With a relatively unscheduled vacation day today, I thought this would be an opportune time to do this. I sorted, selected, made folders, renamed, downloaded, re-downloaded because something went amiss, waited while the phone decided to take a break, transferred photos to both the computer and the external hard drive — and after all this I still had a year or two worth of photos to process.

(Let’s do the math, shall we? 4,050 photos for four years equals 1,012 photos per year. Divided by 12, and that’s 84 pictures of … what, exactly? Food?  Selfies? The cat? My kids call me the paparazzi.  They tease me about photographing our dinners — usually for a blog post or Facebook status.  Yes, I’m that annoying-as-hell friend.)

Still, processing these seemed do-able.  I shuffled through the photos. Most of the major life events were indeed downloaded and/or already shared to Facebook. I looked at the clock. To my surprise, more than two hours had vanished — pretty much all of the unscheduled time of my vacation day afternoon — not to mention the three hours I spent in the Verizon store waiting for these same damn 4,050 photos to transfer over.

As if on cue — or because I’m technically-challenged me — the phone decided to just stop downloading. Or whatever.  It had had enough.

And so had I.

What was I really saving these mostly inconsequential photos for, anyway? I used to be an avid scrapbooker and part of me still believes the magic powers of all the Project Life and Creative Memories paraphernalia in my basement really will get me caught up on what is now more than a decade of our family’s photos.

But there’s a difference between carefully curating a life and living one.

What had already been downloaded of those 4,050 photos was fine, I decided. Maybe I missed something, but probably not anything worth losing any more hours over.  I’ll be more conscientious of downloading them in the future, I vowed.

Or maybe I can try to live more in the moment while taking a few thousand less.

photo taken by me (and not on my cell phone) at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, May 2009

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis post is #9 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 


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3 thoughts on “Why I Decided to Delete My Cell Phone Photos (9/99)

  1. Bryan G. Robinson

    I back up my photos from my camera on Dropbox, but then I do go through and delete a lot, because I usually take 20 photos for every photo I use. I think it’s all of my years of working for newspapers. “Just one more photo,” and then I’d take at least 19 more. Usually, though, it was the first one that was used, because it was the most natural and not as forced or with as many frowns.

  2. Lisa Weinstein

    Melissa I am not quite as bad, my phone “only” has about 1,200 photos. But I am the same way, terrified to let go of any of them, even though the ones that matter have already been shared on FB. It was probably quite exhilarating for you to get rid of them!

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