New Criticals

Since 2007, gmail has been recording everything. No one asked for these records, yet they exist. I can read the first email I ever wrote and remember how I sat when I wrote it (legs crossed), what I wore (gray sweatshirt, running shorts), the way the room felt around me (Brooklyn sublet—clean and foreign). I can then scan a few years forward and remember moving cities and changing jobs. I can remember breakups and breakdowns. And now, especially because email has become so ubiquitous in both our work and personal lives, there are records of nearly every emotion—no matter how dull. Unless there is a technological revolution, I will likely have this same gmail account for the rest of my life—meaning—fifty years from now, I will be able to recall what it felt like to write this article. Words and memories and emotions become hard data.