Today, I made breakfast while listening to songs on my iPhone, watched Netflix while I ate and then played a game I had downloaded on my PS3. It was all incredibly convenient and I enjoyed each aspect of it… except maybe the breakfast. My omelette technique could use some work. Today, however, as I settled in for an hours long gaming session, I also looked at the shelf that houses my movies, games, books etc. and I have to say that the lack of material on it made me a little sad.
I have a problem; I’m a collector. I traded in my copies of each chapter Lord of the Rings: Extended Cut because a box set came out on Blu-Ray. Why? Because box sets look cooler on your shelf. This isn’t just about movies either. I love Skyrim; I’m talking hundreds of hours spent playing it. Hell, I’ve even read The Lusty Argonian! Do you know how much it bugs me that there’s a Legendary edition out that I don’t have?
But I digress. The point is, with all the consumable media out there entering the digital age, it leaves me wondering what’s going to happen to collectors like me. Will everything eventually go digital and wanting an analog copy of it will become a vastly expensive collector’s item? Will we lose out on getting to know people by sifting through their vast collections of CDs, Blurays, vinyl and books as we trade it away for MP3 files, Netflix and Kindles?
Now I’m not trying to knock digital. I don’t know what I’d do without my expensive pieces of technological wonder. I love the fact that my phone contains 1,100 pictures, 2200 songs and multiple games and I still have room for more. It definitely makes taking the bus much more bearable. There’s just a certain level of pride taken in an impressive display of your collection. Don’t tell me you’ve never felt a swell of satisfaction when a friend looks through your game stack and tells you how jealous he is of your limited edition version of Street Fight 4 or whatever it is you may have tucked away.
At the very least, a crowded shelf is a conversation piece. When you get dragged to the dreaded ‘meet my family’ dinner of a significant other, it’s always helped me to go to their shelves and spark up a conversation about why they may have this but not have that. Like, why would you own Pulp Fiction but not Jackie Brown? Or why do you have Driver but not Grand Theft Auto? Not only does it give you some common ground, it also lets you flex some knowledge on a topic you’re comfortable with. Who doesn’t want to look good in front of your new beau’s family?
I also once dated a girl who told me that she and her friends had a standing rule that if they went home with someone who didn’t own a book, they got out of there immediately. I always thought it was an interesting rule because, like it or not, what you own says a lot about you. Give me five minutes with your collection and I’ll let you know if we’re going to get along or not and probably how well. That may sound very shallow, but you know I’m right. If you’re an Xbox guy who swears by shooters, how are you going to feel when you see a Playstation and predominantly JPRG’s? You’re probably not going to talk about games with this person.
This is something we’re losing with the digital age. With everything being loaded onto your personal devices, we no longer have access to this information about other people. We might all be listening to music all the time, but I don’t know if you’re listening to something good or Nickelback and lord knows I can’t look at your phone to find out. How often do you get to look at someone’s Netflix account or their iTunes or their Kindle and see what stuff they’re into? If you say anything other than ‘basically never’, I know you work for the NSA. As we personalize our devices more and more, we embrace the isolation that having all your favourites at your fingertips has brought us. There’s no need to talk to someone else about what they like when everything you already love is just a click away.
That’s why I’m going to keep building my collection. For everything I have digitally, I want to have a physical copy. Or, at the very least, have as many physical copies as I can. Because I’m not going to give up the convenience of my phone or my Netflix, but the least I can do is when I have you over, give you the option of debating why I own Mortal Kombat but not Soul Calibur.