Living in the age of the internet is awesome. We have an endless supply of music, films, articles, ebooks, comic strips – whatever you heart could possibly desire, there it is at the click or tap of a screen. Having everything handed to us on a silver platter is so easy and convenient, but of course, as with all good things, it comes with tradeoffs.
Lower quality files, waiting for buffering times, access-all-areas from your basement doesn’t have a patch on the tangible joy of the collectible artifact.
Don’t get me wrong, you can keep and curate a physical collection and still enjoy all that the digital world has to offer, but as an alternative, digital comes up short. Real stuff is just better.
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A computer will never replace a real collection and the joy it brings for several reasons. Here are 5 of them:
1. A Physical Collection Gives you a Manageable Number of Options
How much time do you estimate you’ve wasted staring at the Spotify or Netflix menu, paralysed by the weight of near infinite options? I can only speak for myself, but I’d make a conservative guess at about 1000-10,000 hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Turns out, it’s a real thing and it has a name: overchoice, or choice overload. Suddenly you’re not just picking an album or DVD off the shelf, you’re juggling hundreds of equally good options.
Give me a shelf of DVDs, records, or books any day to choose from any day.
2. Skip the Screen fatigue
Who else is getting square eyes from spending countless hours hypnotized by the black mirror? A recent study found office workers spend about 1700 hours a year in front of a screen. Compound that with checking your phone a million times a day and winding down in front of the TV and the figure gets even crazier.
Not satisfied with killing fabric softener and mayonnaise, it seems millennials have now set their sights on assassinating the ebook as well. The Guardian reported last year that ebook sales were at their lowest levels since 2011, dropping 17% in 2016. This drop in sales of ereaders has largely been attributed to screen fatigue and the general desire to disconnect from the oversaturation of screens and devices.
Returning to your physical collection, picking up a proper paper book, comic or graphic novel is the logical antidote to this.
3. Secure your access to your favorite stuff
Streaming platforms change and remove content all the time, or only have movies available for a limited time. I still have no idea how the movie, Boomerang ends because it was removed without warning when I was halfway through streaming it (no spoilers, please). And if you thought you could circumvent this by purchasing a digital film release in a store like iTunes, think again. An iTunes customer took to Twitter just the other day after noticing that films he’d purchased on iTunes had disappeared from his library, without any notice or warning. He was told that the content provider had removed them from the Canadian store so they were no longer available to watch. There was no alternative or refund offered, just rental credits for iTunes.
With a physical collection, once the items are on your shelves you’ve got them for good.
4. A Physical Release Allows You To Hear or See The Art As the Artist Intended
There’s more to enjoying music than streaming the odd track. Owning an album means listening to the whole thing, from start to finish, knowing every track title, poring over the liner-notes. It’s an experience you could miss if you don’t have the physical release. With film releases, it means enjoying the movie in high resolution, rather than a pixelated, slow-loading file. Or flipping through a book, smelling the pages, and that first crack of the spine. Art was meant to be tactile, a multi-sensory experience, rather than simply a flash before the eyes on the screen.
A collection of physical items gives you the full, 3D experience that the artist intended.
5. Support indies! Physical shops Are Relying on your Collection
Is there anything better than sifting through crates in a record shop, the smell of a bookshop, or the characters in a comic shop? Wiling away hours between shelves is one of life’s great pleasures.
Leaving a store with a coveted record, book, comic, or other collectible is creating and holding onto a memory.