Does Social Media Cloud Our Memories?
There’s lots of things I remember from my teens that I find myself thinking about very vividly with no real prompt. My memory isn’t good at the best of times, but there are a big handful of things that if I close my eyes, I am practically back there again. The memory is razor sharp. It’s a clarity that I don’t seem to have a lot of these days.
I wondered if it’s because I’m not as present, now that I’m distracted by the inner workings of my phone. Do I really remember who was at the party apart from the people I spoke to? When did I last look at the view without taking a picture saying “wow!” through a screen? What did the person look like who sat next to me on the bus yesterday? Being buried in my phone I wonder if I’m cutting off my peripherals in a way I never used to.
It was around the early 2000s. My family and I were in Lanzarote and we took a day trip on a huge Catamaran, with big webbed nets covering the front of the boat, so lying on it you felt you are just dangling above the water. If you lay on your front to sunbathe, you could feel sprinkles of sea water hit on your arms and face. It was a group trip, the boat was full of different families all soaking up the sun.
I remember seeing dolphins for the first time. I remember really seeing them, holding onto the rails as I leant over and seeing their shiny skin, the way they moved in unison with each other, bobbing up and down, slipping through the water. I remember seeing them breathe through their blowholes at alternate times as if they were singing a song. They were so close to the boat I was practically squealing.
I remember the amazing bathroom at the bottom of the boat where there was a glass panel to the right so that you could see fish swimming past you as you sat on the loo seat. I remember thinking “hey don’t watch me” as a Finding Nemo type just stopped and stared.
I remember the captain let me drive the boat for a while, the steering wheel was as tall as me. I realised it wasn’t easy, using all the strength in my arms to move us slightly to the right.
I remember my big sister and I calling one of the crew members Tight Pants behind his back because he was wearing very small Lycra speedos and it was offending my teenage eyes. My family were laughing at me, because I’d agree to go out on a jetski and it was Tight Pants who was in charge of taking customers for a spin and back again. I was hanging off the back, kind of wanting it to be over, kind of loving it.
There are lots of things during my younger years that I don’t have photos of. I didn’t even think to take photos.
(That was, until I got to about thirteen and discovered Bebo and digital cameras.)
When I saw the dolphins I didn’t have a smartphone on me, and what’s more important I didn’t think “ooooh dolphins, where’s my phone?”. I wonder now how much we stop a real life experience to document it, before really looking at it with our eyes first. It’s almost automatic now, we see something cool and then we think “wait there I just need to snap it quickly“. Does it affect how we remember things? Do photos skew our memories? If I was panicking about getting a good photo lying on the boat, would it have been as magical?
I read recently that the average age of children now a days when they get their first smartphone is six.
With stuff like Timehop and Facebook Memories telling us what to remember, I can’t help but think some of the best things in my life aren’t captured, and if they were, I certainly didn’t get the best bits because the times I’ve been truly truly lost in the moment, you know it’s not worth it to scrabble around in your bag to find your phone. You get that feeling sometimes that is it just kind of…disrespectful to not just soak it up.
No app or social media site would be able to “remind” me of this holiday, which I can remember so well: the sun, the sea, my family, the music, the fish, the jokes and the other people on the boat. I don’t remembering caring what I was wearing. I remember the salty sea wind giving me a dread lock in my hair that took hours to brush out. I just was in the moment.
Taking a photo isn’t always making a memory stronger. Maybe I need to stop looking at beautiful things from behind an iPhone and be a bit stricter with what I feel is important to document.
Image source: Pinterest.
How I Grew Up Online
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