will we evolve to forget?

will we evolve to forget

Snapchat are about to launch sunglasses that capture video of what you see.

Your brain already does that.

Many of us think visually. We see ourselves in our experiences. We recall memories this way; in our “mind’s eye”. We even create imagined futures by running video or slide shows of what might happen. Our imagination is cool.

If we start replacing the need to do this because technology does it for us, might we evolve to lose the ability?

Evolution of course takes time, but there is already evidence that more people are becoming nearsighted because of recent changes in patterns of behaviour. A new paper published in the journal Ophthalmology looks at worldwide trends in myopia (nearsightedness) by doing a meta-analysis of 145 studies involving 2.1 million total participants. It predicts that by the year 2050, 4.8 billion people will be nearsighted. That’s 49.8 percent of the world’s population. The theory is that this is because of increased close work in the office, use of handheld devices and because less time is spent outdoors.

So what next? No need to visually recall our experiences; just download what we saw from our sunglasses?

Now that’s a dark thought to dim the brightness of anyone’s day.

the false memory in reflection


Listened to a really interesting talk by Dr Julia Shaw today on the illusion of memory.

The process in our brain by which we store memory and the one by which we imagine futures is largely the same. So we confuse the two. We all have what are termed false memories.

Proven in studies globally, eye witness recall is unreliable in that witnesses unwittingly lose detail or embellish the truth through imagination. This is not just the stress of witnessing crime – we all do it.

In essence every memory you hold might be untrue or inaccurate. Dr Shaw’s work demonstrates also how you can, simply, ‘con’ the brain into imagining a past memory. Watch here

I’m now sitting on a train looking at a reflection of the platform in a light cover. The reflection is upside down. Distorted. A bit like a false memory. But then, reflections are always distorted. Back to front or upside down. 

How apt. When we reflect on our experience, when we recall the memory, it has the potential to be distorted. Inaccurate. Missing key parts. Events that we imagined, added as truths. Events that actually happened, inflated or diminished in their significance, or removed totally.

Worth reflecting on?

gone for good

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Trolley points. You know, places where you return a trolley and get your money back. You find them in car parks, on train stations, in airports. You’ve made use of the trolley as part of your journey. It served a purpose and now you’re done with it. So you can return it to a tidy spot and be reimbursed. It’s gone for good.

On life’s journey we collect stuff too, but there’s not usually somewhere handy to leave it when you’re done. You end up storing it in your head. Sometimes it comes back out and trips you up, or slows you down. Sometimes you try and lock it away in a ‘cupboard’ in a corner of your brain. You know you don’t need it, or want it again. It has served its purpose on your journey. But it won’t stay there; it keeps on returning. Like a runaway trolley hitting your shins.

Trolley point anyone?

 

where does a smell take you?

pasty

There’s a man eating a pasty, maybe fifteen feet from me.

I can smell it. A slightly sweet aroma. I can feel the sensations of a bite of the piping hot food in my mouth. I can sense my slight open mouthed panting, as air is used to cool that bite to a temperature for swallow. I can taste the meaty, gooey mouthful, mixed with crumbly buttery pastry. I can taste the slightly peppery warmth.

There’s something strangely primal about holding your food in your hand.

I am instantly transported to my own specific memories of enjoying a pasty. Walking in the street with my family, grabbing lunch on a shopping trip. Numerous glorious holidays in Cornwall. A rushed snack on the way home from somewhere, late. In each memory, the smell of this man’s pasty takes me there. Fully.

Where does a smell take you and how vibrant is that place?

I’m off for a pasty…

non specific selective forgetfulness

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I notice sometimes names escape me.

I’m not referring to a gradual onset of forgetfulness or dementia (I hope) but rather to certain names. Why is that?

At work there are a few people who, every time I meet them I struggle to recall their name. Other people I know less well I have no problem recalling their name, but for some reason it escapes me for a few. Then I notice I can’t remember, so that next time I see them approaching I’m already thinking ‘I can’t remember your name’… and so I can’t.

But it’s not just people. I was listening to some music today in the car and a particular band came on from my playlist. A band I like. A band I listen to on occasion. But I can never recall the names of the tracks.  I don’t have the problem with other music, just some. Why is that?

Actors and actresses too. Some, no matter how good their performance or regardless of the quality of the film, I simply can’t put a name to the face.

Maybe it’s about connection? Emotional or otherwise?

What makes us selectively ‘forget’? And what holds us in that pattern?

the passing of life

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When we hear the sad news of a celebrity or significant public personality passing, it reminds us of our own past.  Often our connection is to a shared time – the music we listened to, the films we saw, the events we witnessed.

It is the memories of those days, those shared times, the recollection of our own dim distant youth and the good times therein, that often brings the sadness, the emotion, maybe the tears.

When people close to us pass away, the number of connections is more, the richness of the memories even brighter, deeper, warmer.

It is at these points of passing, that we reflect on our own mortality. When lives end, we pay attention to the passing of our own years. Time slipping away.

Yet life is passing with every moment.

Each passing hour, minute, second is a moment of our own lives; and so many we let go without conscious thought.

So many pass without reflection to their significance; so many pass in the blink of an eye; so many slip away without time to relish their part in the contribution to our own evolution, our own personal learning and growth.

So many pass without awareness to the contribution we make to the richness of others memories. The people we touch. The difference we make. The memory making moments our existence has had, to those around us who will be here long afterwards.

The passing of life isn’t about death, it’s about now. This minute, this moment.

 

RIP David

 

now is the only everlasting memory

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Many years ago, the photograph was a physical thing.

Nowadays we live in a digital age. The image has become a series of ones and zeros, which can be shared instantly across the globe. It can be enlarged, edited, colours saturated, edges blurred. It can be enhanced with special effects, have its background changed, detail enhanced. All of this can be achieved in seconds. Methods and means for sharing are many, and once a photograph is out in the social network we lose track of its global journey; who might see it, where, how and when.

When we capture a smile in a photograph, it has an eternal quality. A moment in time is captured in digital form to be shared and enjoyed for ever. It becomes an everlasting smile. Or does it?

The photograph cannot replicate the human experience. The feeling that went with the smile. The sensation of the facial muscles drawing the lips back. The image or experience behind the camera that generated the smile. The joy of the moment. The supporting emotions of fun, love, togetherness, excitement, happiness. It cannot hold within it the sharing. The memories.

Today we have become obsessed by taking the picture. We snap them constantly. Delete the duplicates. Discard the imperfect. Edit them to impress.

Maybe we have forgotten to enjoy the moment? To take in the experience? To absorb the emotion and allow the feeling to wash over us like a wave of liquid happiness? To live the experience and therefore to enrich the memory? Maybe the smile in the moment is the only truly everlasting smile? The one in the now?

Let’s focus on the moment, not on the creation of the ones and zeros.