How old are you? If you are 35 or under, you probably have no recollection of what life was like before the invention of VHS tapes. Let us paint a picture for you; movies belonged to the world of theaters, complete with long lines and exorbitantly priced candy. TV was an entertainment medium watched in real time. If you wanted to catch the latest episode of a TV series, you had to be plunked down in front of the set on a schedule dictated by the networks and their sponsors. And, you’d better be prepared to sit through an interminable number of commercials. Sounds pretty draconian, doesn’t it?
Then, miraculously, after about 30 or 40 years, new devices and new media forms emerged. After the usual shake-out, one format came out on top – the VHS tape. Suddenly, one could watch a movie in the comfort of one’s home. People could build entire film libraries and watch them on demand, over and over. VHS was recordable. If you could manage to figure out how to program the VCR, you could record your favorite TV shows and watch them at times suitable for you. Video rental stores sprang up in every community and Hollywood could not recycle their old film stock into this burgeoning market fast enough. Even if you had to pay the occasional late fee or were fined for not re-winding, these were small prices to pay for so much convenience.
Alas, time marches on and eventually these rectangular plastic workhorses were replaced by more compact and durable alternatives. Simply kicked to curb, video cassettes attained the dreaded CRUD status. CRUD is our acronym for Completely Ridiculous Useless Debris. Video cassettes belong to a sub-category of CRUD spawned by technology innovation in home entertainment products, rendering them undesirable in a relatively short span of time. Even DVDs and DVD players are achieving obsolescence as media companies are streaming directly to end users. Today, people are more likely to view entertainment on computers and mobile devices as TVs. And the neighborhood video rental store of yesteryear? That’s got to be a yoga studio or a WIFI-enabled coffee bar.
When you finally decide to cull or ditch your library of video tapes, bear in mind that some may be more deserving of retention than others. Purging programs you recorded like old episodes of “The Love Boat” or “Kate and Allie” should not even cause you to wince. The same criteria apply to movies you recorded – even the Disney classics. If you find a bunch of videos without labels or covers, don’t even bother trying to figure out what was on them. The only exception in the homemade category would be videos you took of your kids when they were young, recordings of vacations or celebrations, or any video that proves you once wore a size 4. You may want to convert them into other forms of digital media before discarding them.
Commercially produced feature-length movies may still be capable of being donated to charitable organizations, pre-schools or nursing homes.
While you’re at it, you can cart away your aging VCR to electronic recycling. Once this entire job is completed, you will have no regrets. You may even be able to part with the enormous entertainment unit that has dominated the family room for a couple of decades. Consider the possibilities.