Warning: This article contains personal opinions.
I have written a number of times about the advantages of a paperless lifestyle. Genealogists seem especially attached to paper. We often save photocopies of old records, old books, and much, much more. I once bought a four-drawer filing cabinet to store all my paper. A few years later, I purchased a SECOND four-drawer filing cabinet. I purchased probably more than one hundred dollars’ worth of file folders over the years. I photocopied and photocopied and stored all the paper in neatly-arranged folders.
Sadly, I almost never opened the drawers to retrieve anything. When I did attempt to find something, I often couldn’t locate what I wanted because the document was filed in some obscure method. For instance, the marriage record I might be seeking often was filed under the husband’s surname, not under the wife’s maiden name.
Like a recovering alcoholic, I have since broken my addiction to paper. I now live about 98% paper-free, and I love it. Almost every piece of paper that enters my house is either (1.) discarded immediately or (2.) scanned into my computer, and then the paper is discarded. I don’t ever want to go back to cluttering my life with paper. And, yes, I have multiple backups of everything worth saving; some backup copies are stored at home, and other copies are stored off-site for safety. See http://goo.gl/qLFH63 for some of my earlier articles about how to live a paperless lifestyle.
An article by Jura Koncius of the Washington Post takes the same concept of living paperless and expands it even further. The article says that many Americans, mostly younger adults, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with. Quoting from the article:
“Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock-and-roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, family photo albums and leather sectionals.
“Their offspring don’t want them.”
The article goes on to say, “Whether becoming empty nesters, downsizing or just finally embracing the decluttering movement, boomers are taking a good close look at the things they have spent their life collecting.”
My favorite quote from the article is, “If I can’t store my memories of something in a computer, I’m probably not going to keep them around.”
Indeed, we all need to question why we need to save the bric-a-brac of our lives. Do we need our college textbooks, sports trophies or T-shirt collections? Even more important, do we need to purchase larger and more expensive homes to keep all our possessions? George Carlin was right about “stuff.” Watch the video below and you, too, will start to see the ridiculousness of your hoarding habits. Warning: there is profanity in the video.
Are you planning to downsize in your retirement years? Now is the time to start planning. I had exposure to downsizing when I spent two years living in a Winnebago motor home. The adjustment was difficult at first. However, once I downsized, I found that possessions were not all that important. I enjoyed the freedom of not having to deal with all my stuff. You might find the same to be true.
Yes, even genealogists can live comfortably without paper or possessions.
My thanks to newsletter reader Jerry Ball for telling me about the article by Jura Koncius.