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Turning Ten: A Decade on Letterboxd

I never used to think of myself as much of a collector. Decades of confined apartment living taught me to cultivate a certain minimalism, to avoid sentimental attachments, to reduce and consolidate. When the Information Age came for physical media, I held on a little longer than most, but by the time I finally stopped buying CDs, my entire collection had already been ripped to MP3 for years.

I didn’t even bother to digitize most of my DVDs before I sold them off unceremoniously. To some traditional collectors, this may have seemed like a lack of devotion, but this process helped me realize I wasn’t attached to the artifacts of music and film, I was attached to the experience of them. So now I think of myself as a collector of experiences.

We all accumulate experiences, of course, just like we accumulate objects. But a collection—at least the kind that interests me—is much more deliberate than an accumulation. The best collections are curations, and a curator puts a lot of thought into what they value about their collection and what would make it more complete. To this end, I can think of no finer tool for managing a collection of experiences than Letterboxd.

I’ve been a film lover my whole life, but if Letterboxd hadn’t come along, I think it’s safe to say I would never have been quite so intentional about it. I’ve kept up with friends’ moviegoing adventures. I’ve written hundreds of wannabe Pauline Kael reviews. I’ve cross-referenced my film diary entries to find interesting patterns and connections. I’ve fallen down cast-and-crew-research rabbit holes. I’ve methodically sorted and filtered aggregated community ratings to assemble my October schedule of new-to-me horror.

Through it all, Letterboxd has been my cinephilic command center. For the past ten years, it’s been indispensable, leaving no film-watching experience unexamined, and as a result, the collected experiences that live in my Letterboxd account are so much richer than a bookcase full of Blu-rays could ever be. Matthew, Karl and the rest of the crew have made something truly special, and I can’t wait to see what new discoveries and friends I make in my next ten years on Letterboxd.