I have more than 16,000 photos on my camera roll, and I guarantee that an unhealthy percentage are just duplicate images and haphazard screenshots of Instagram recipes and mildly funny memes I once sent to someone.
I have let my camera roll run wild, and now it’s a tangled garden where the few remaining flowers are overshadowed by a chaotic mess of endless weeds: new Trader Joe’s products, email reminders, gift ideas, accidental shots of my phone home screen, a hummus recipe I was “totally going to make” but never did.
It takes a trained eye to sort through thousands of personalized images. I often browse my sea of screenshots with a fierce purpose, looking for an ultra-specific memory from four years ago.
I first scan past a large batch of recipe screenshots, whipping past winter break photos, homework images, pictures of ice cream sundaes, high school graduation photos and SAT memes.
Each section is a landmark that guides me on my calculated search. “Take a left past the red barn, through the traffic lights and you’ll know you’re almost there when you pass the cluster of Harry Potter meme screenshots from the phase you went through last summer.”
I don’t think I’ll ever organize or clean my camera roll. It will probably remain a complicated, convoluted mess for the rest of eternity — getting more cluttered with every passing day and every necessary screenshot of a new cookie recipe.
Perhaps in 500 years, someone creating a museum about life in the 2020s will find some substance in the photos, such as the one of my name written on a Coca-Cola bottle or the screenshots of networking email drafts or the photoshoot I did with a smoothie.
Until then, the photos will remain lost and unseen, overtaken by the new batches of Harry Potter screenshots that flood my camera roll daily. Because who are we kidding? Harry Potter isn’t a phase. It’s a lifestyle.
To the person who may end up having to dig through the depth of dandelions and invasive weeds of my camera roll one day, I wish you all the luck and courage in the world. You will need it.