The Dematerialization of Life or "Hey, Where'd All My Stuff Go?"

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One unexpected consequence of the digital age - no objects to evoke memories.

I’m a huge proponent of digitizing my life as much as possible. When the data of my life is available as bits, its also searchable, sharable, and can be mined to ask interesting questions.

One possible drawback I’ve noticed though is that, when the objects of my life are physically present in my immediate environment, I can “bump into them” on accident and be spontaneously reminded of past experiences or future expectations. But as these objects are digitized, my room becomes emptier and emptier. Everything I keep or own is on my computer. My immediate environment is somewhat empty. With the digitization of my life, what am I losing that is unique to human interaction with physical objects?

There might be ways our brains respond to physical objects that are simply cannot be stimulated by the digital representation of those objects. I’ve heard plenty of people complain about the “digitization of human relationships”, but I think we’re completely overlooking the possible drawbacks of dematerialization and the disappearance of objects.