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Preserving Your Personal History: Does the Delete Button Have the Power to Change the Past?

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Bad hair day? Delete. Less than flattering picture? Delete. With the click of a button, we can change what our past looks like to future generations. But should we?

Digital technology has given us the option to take unlimited photos, and then delete the ones we don’t want quickly and easily. For the most part, I love that I’m able to do this! You’ll find a number of posts written by me discussing the importance of deleting the digital photos you don’t need. After all, we have more photos now than we know what to do with. And it’s easy to let them pile up on our computers, if we don’t make a conscious effort to stay organized.  But too many photos slow our computers down, makes it harder to find a special photo that we need when we need it, and honestly, I feel like keeping too many photos gives them less meaning as well. But that’s a topic for another day.

Today, however, I want you to consider keeping some of those photos that you would normally delete. 

If you go back and look through your old printed photos, you’ll find some pretty funny ones.  You know, the ones with the bad haircuts, ridiculous outfits, and of course the “bloopers” like the time you came out of the bathroom with toilet paper trailing behind you! In years past, we kept all of our photos…today we tend to delete any picture that is less than perfect, leaving a slightly skewed record of reality. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person.

But tonight when I was looking back through some of the pictures my husband and I saved from our college days, I found a number of them that I probably would have deleted today. There were a few real gems in there! I have a feeling our kids (and grandkids) are going to have some fun going through them someday. Interestingly enough, the one I was trying to find has been misplaced…it’s a photo of myself and a friend with licorice up our noses. No clue what possessed us to do that (but she’ll probably be glad when she sees it’s not in this post).

But here’s some I did find.

Now that's a flattering look...

Now that’s a flattering look…

Is that a picture of me taped to my now husband, then boyfriend's shirt? And a cone on his head? That was funny, because why?

Is that a picture of me taped to my now husband, then boyfriend’s shirt? And a cone on his head? That was funny, because why?

You need a lot of air to blow all those candles out!

You need a lot of air to blow all those candles out!

That's me on the far right with the bad hair

That’s me on the far right with the bad hair

I’ve got lots more where these came from….some of which will remain away from inquiring eyes for years to come!

My point is though, these photos are part of my story. If I had tossed them because of the way I looked, well, then, my kids wouldn’t be hearing the stories that went with those photos, and a part of my history would be lost. (Plus I wouldn’t be providing them with some comic relief).

I’m not telling you to keep all your digital photos. I’m still a big advocate for deleting what you don’t need. But consider saving some of the “bloopers”…they are, after all, a part of your personal history!



Monday 15th of June 2020

I've just stumbled on this really old post after reading one of your posts about deleting photos. It's funny because I've recently been sorting out some old photos from 2011-2014 ish and I was struck by how much more photogenic I seemed to be back then... until I realised that no, I would have just kept the good ones. My phone had much less storage so I couldn't keep everything, and the front cameras on those older iphones were a lower resolution too so they weren't picking up all the detail. Definitely something for me to think about with more recent photos!


Monday 13th of May 2013

Great point! I love looking back on the goofy pictures and thinking about the memories behind them. I can't wait to show them to Keenan and tell him the stories when he is a little older! Happy SITS Day!

Michelle Nahom

Wednesday 15th of May 2013

I think my kids are going to love looking back at these pictures when they are older! Thanks for being a part of my SITS day!


Monday 13th of May 2013

I love this concept! Although the usually deleted pictures might be scary, I may take a second look before deleting them next time.

Michelle Nahom

Wednesday 15th of May 2013

I'm taking a second look these days too...some of them are downright funny! Thanks for visiting on my SITS day!!

The Roving Retorter

Monday 13th of May 2013

Great point - I've grown to love some of those old hard-copy shots that I once considered tearing up. They keep me grounded.

Michelle Nahom

Wednesday 15th of May 2013

Yeah, I hear you. I've got a lot more where those above came from. Definitely some gems in there. I think my kids will probably enjoy them immensely when they are older! Thanks so much for being a part of my SITS day!


Monday 13th of May 2013

True story. I like to delete all my fat pictures. But who knows...maybe when I get skinny I'll like to go back and look just to day "How do you like me now?!!"

Michelle Nahom

Wednesday 15th of May 2013

I don't love my pics either, but I don't want my kids to grow up and look back and never see me in any pictures!! I have whole sections of my history years ago where I am in no pictures - I've been changing that!