The Obsoleteness of Remembering

Do you remember that time your mate did that hilarious thing? Of course you do. You’ve probably got a photo that you took of them and posted it on Facebook. Maybe you even tweeted about it! Did it get lots of retweets? It did? Congrats! Of course, if you don’t remember that hilarious thing your mate did then you don’t even know they did it, making the whole remembering thing utterly redundant.

Like many things in life, the act of remembering seems to be a thing of the past. It’s as obsolete as, say, a gramophone. Remember those? Yes, you do, because there are pictures of them. If there were no remaining evidence that gramophones ever existed then you probably wouldn’t be able to recall them.

10% of all photographs ever taken were taken in the last 12 months, probably mostly selfies and pictures of food on Instagram, but incredible nonetheless. Now, photographs are wonderful, amazing things, and utilised well, they can be great works of art, provocative, powerful, emotive and stunningly beautiful. But the other thing that photos allow us to do is remember events, places, people, and many other things more vividly than man was ever capable of doing beforehand.

In this, the age of smartphones, tablets, and other pointless lumps of technodrivel in object form, remembering is an outdated concept. Despite the fact that writing things down in order to not forget them is far from a new idea, the new channels available to catalogue our every thought and action seem to have contributed to this notion that nothing should be left to dissolve into the abyss of all that other stuff we’ve forgotten. Almost everyone in the western world now has a tiny device in their pocket able to access the sum of human knowledge in a matter of seconds*.

Not only can these miraculous tiny gadgets reach all of those hysterical cat videos, but they can also take photos, record video and sound, or even allow you to write notes. This means that wherever you are, whenever you are, and whatever you are, you need never forget that genius chuckle-brothers-based joke you came up with. You could even write down that blog post idea about how out-dated remembering things is nowadays! Only if your battery hasn’t died though.

It’s not even just things that we ask technology to remember that we’re reminded of anymore though. Having somewhere to record thoughts and musings is definitely good. Things like Facebook just take it too far. Birthdays are a great example of this, most people have many ‘friends’ on Facebook, quite possibly more than 2 or 3 hundred of the things. One person with, say, 284 friends, let’s call him Tarquin, doesn’t really like most of the people he’s ‘friends’ with and certainly doesn’t know their birthdays off by heart. They feel the same about him, and yet thanks to Facebook they’re bound to tap away at their keyboard until they work out how to send a heartfelt ‘happy birthday’ to him. This all lessens the niceness of being wished a happy birthday, and I now respond with severe cynicism to anyone whose birthday wish is simply ‘happy birthday’. It’s forced people who are actually friends with Tarquin to have to think of something slightly different and more interesting to include in their message. On my birthday my friend texted me simply ‘hb m8 yh’. A far more thought-out message than the aforementioned emotionless drivel, that actually induced a hearty chuckle. Thanks to Facebook, I now preferred that murdering of grammar to a perfectly punctuated happy birthday wish maybe coupled with a meaningless smiley face, a glowing yellow embodiment of modern ambivalence.

Facebook also notifies you an hour before an event is due to occur. Even if it’s your own event. Have we become so used to having technology do our thinking for us that we’re not even capable of realising that we’d invited people to an event of our own creation?

I’m so glad Facebook is around, were it not I’d probably just be lying on the floor wondering why I’m not doing anything over and over again because no flickering screen informed me that I’d already had that thought and maybe I should branch out a tad.

*Sub-note, this is a ridiculous phrase – any time period is a matter of seconds, some just of more than others.


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About Mark Dolan

Hello there, I'm Mark, a 21 year old English archaeology student. I write about various things; archaeology, musings on my life, and various bits of society that I have something to say about.

2 responses to “The Obsoleteness of Remembering”

  1. quitefranklee says :

    Your best post so far. Had me intrigued from the start and you did a lot with the topic. Ps. did Sam send you that message? :L


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