Timehop and forgetting people

Timehop is one of the apps on my phone I visit daily (like the weather, twitter and instagram). It’s my quick trip down memory lane… in a highlights reel.

Yesterday, I read a beautiful comment posted on my facebook wall about 8 years ago. It congratulated us on our recent engagement (yep, that was 8 years ago!) and mentioned a visit to SA and Australia. Problem was, I have no idea who Ron Mulligan, the author of the comment, is. Ron may have changed his name, and his facebook profile picture (timehop pulls in the latest of both from facebook) and so I stalked… err, researched… and found Ron on facebook. We are no longer friends. We have no friends in common. And besides that we both lived in the UK at some point (the public profile and cover pictures reveal), I have no reason to believe I ever knew Ron… besides the fact that timehop implies perhaps we were friends.

There’s a theory that you hold a finite number of memories – that simply, there isn’t enough space for every past moment to be kept in your mind. It also says that by revisiting a memory, you’re hauling it out of the filing cabinet, and rewriting it, to be stored closer to the front again. What is stored, is an interpretation of what was, with today’s perspective. It is filed to be accessed again. And when it is, the original facts of the occasion aren’t recalled at all, but rather – the most recent version that was filed.

The theory makes sense, we tend to recall happiest of moments and often say “I remember it like it was yesterday” (most likely with incorrect facts of who was really there, and what you actually wore!). However we don’t even remember the name of someone we were in class with at university as we haven’t had to think of them since we last saw them. This is the anti-old-age-memory-loss theory. This is the filing-cabinet-memory-loss theory.

So Ron… dear Ron may be a broken algorithim of timehop meets facebook, or Ron may also be someone from a past life in London. But for me, Ron is forgotten.

And so it made me think, about who (and what) else I may land up forgetting. If I stop talking to people, and then stop visiting the memories – will other, current, people, places, feelings and times land up falling out of the filing cabinet of my mind as well. Will someone special today, or last year, land up unrecognisable and not just through a name change on facebook or a haircut and new profile pic.

I know there are some people, places and times that we say we’d prefer to forget, but would we really? If they were really gone – like Ron – wouldn’t it be scary to have wasted that time, that friendship or that emotion on someone who we can no longer even recall – them or why they were there in the first place. As much as we think it’d be easier and better to forget – especially the bad stuff –  I’m not sure I want to when faced with the reality of truly not being able to recall someone. Pushing something away, in to the deep recess of your mind, doesn’t mimic the actuality of how you feel when you have truly forgotten them.

I hope Ron wasn’t someone I should’ve remembered. For the lesson he taught me, or that I taught him. I wonder if it works both ways and if Ron remembers me.

*Further stalking reveals that Ron is actually a girl. 

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