Valentine: Get a box

Robert Valentine Senior lecturer in advertising

It’s that special time of year again.

No, it’s too early for Christmas, despite the Walmart mannequins wearing vampire fangs and Santa hats. It’s too early for Thanksgiving, too.

It is the perfect time for vice presidents, volunteer event coordinators and publicity chairmen across campus to get a box. You might want to get a big one.

You see, the one big problem with the digital age is the prevalence of digital communication. Gone is the memo, the scribbled list, the minutes of the meeting or the printed letter from someone detailing the steps necessary to pull off the Homecoming fundraiser, the annual alumni dinner, or the Rho Rho Rho Kitten Toss for Male Pattern Baldness.

In place of old fashioned piles of paper are digital files, voicemails and emails that are always available – assuming you have access to the right computer, cellphone or iPad. Instead of planning meetings, we can have group emails. Instead of a filing cabinet drawer in an office somewhere, we have Google Docs or a private Facebook or Pinterest or Twerper or Instacram or some other component of the latest social networking universe.

It’s a vast improvement – until this time next year.

Then we will find that Apple has upgraded Apple Docs and your e-notepad has been sent to the big recycling bin in the e-sky. Everything was on Dave’s computer, but that fell overboard while he was fishing while writing a humanities paper. He lost the fish, too.

Andrea can’t remember the password for Google Docs. She has run through all the possible permutations of her ex-boyfriend’s statistics, including birthday, height, weight and number of times the sleaze bag lied about studying at the Signa Phi Naught house when he was actually out with Stephanie, her ex-BFF (assuming “B” still stands for “best”).

In short: no one knows what we did or how we did it. We only know it took a great deal of work and was pretty successful. Now what do we do?

“If only,” you will wail to an uncaring Shoe Tree, “we had collected all the lists, charts, programs, plans, posters, receipts, records, thank you notes and spare keys to the rented golf cart and put them all in one place where we could find them this year!”

Well, “if wishes were horses,” as the old saying goes, “there would be plenty of hoof prints around here.” But wishes are not horses, nor are they careful records, summaries of activities, mailing lists, calling lists, guest lists or bucket lists.

Even if your event was part of the Great Beginnings and Luggage Migration Extravaganza, it’s not too late. Throw in the program, the menu, the list of people to email or call.

Write a one-page summary of all the things you did, people who were dependable and how long it takes to get 500 rubber noses shipped from China. Save everything.

Then, get a box.

Make sure that the box is not given to Dave, Andrea’s ex-boyfriend, or ol’ Prof. Postulate who has been declaring his retirement since the reign of the Alexanders and who might just do it this year.

Someone is going to have to remember how we do Campus Lights, All-Campus Sing, Honors Day, Senior Salute, officer elections, new member installations, runs, walks, sleep-ins and all the other memorable events of spring.

It’s not too early to start making a plan to save all the “stuff” that will make it easier for next year’s wheel re-inventors.

Be a friend; help make life easier for the next class. Make yourself part of history.

Get a box.

Column by Robert Valentine, Senior lecturer of advertising