Why my memories are better than yours.

That’s right.  My memories are better than yours.  Why is that the case you ask, well, most likely because you didn’t see it on social media.  I will caveat this article as to not be an affront on those who do live out loud on social media (although, you’ve been warned) but more of a look at social culture as things have evolved over the years.

Recently, I took a trip with my family down to California.  Yay!?– Right?  Of course.  What I did though was to make a conscious effort to not take a picture, selfie or even video of every little thing we did or that the kids experienced.  But why?  Honestly, I had the thought that living in the moment of the experience outweighed the significance of taking a picture;  secondly, memories by virtue create such a hardwired bond that by definition, we tend to remember them more fluidly than a picture or even video can capture.

I was curious, was this just conjecture on my part or actually some scientific point to how the brain processes memories?  Ironically, a quick Bing/Google search shows that how memories are made, are quite amazing.  According to work done via ULCA scientists found that:

… spontaneous memories arise through the activity of the very same neurons that fired when the memory was first being made. (Ref: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080908101651.htm )

Now why is this a big deal–  Well in the study, it showed how activity based memory showed neurons firing that were fired while initially creating the memory.  This of course lead me to wonder the resilience of the human mind recalling the activity (on their vacation) to prove my point.  Ironically, when we take a picture, video or whatever the form of media that encapsulates the memory are we remembering what we’re viewing through our screen/lens or the actual picture/video recording event itself?  To me, it definitely seems to be the latter as when you recall something that is not recorded, there is basically no filter to how your memory recalls it.  A picture, even though it is a snapshot of time (and an activity) is not representative of what story is being told.

So why the hate?  Well, I feel like this Reddit post summarizes my “hate” on this ugly trend:

After I got back from my trip, I had two close friends stay with me (I live in the SF bay area, so I often have friends from other states visit). They took photos of almost every meal we ate and every view we saw.

So, it left me with a question for myself: could I go on a vacation and not take a single picture? Would I miss not having some documentation of the trip, or would it be a more intense experience because I’m not subconsciously concerned about creating an interesting story to tell facebook once I get back? – not-a-ginger [via Reddit] (Ref: http://www.reddit.com/r/minimalism/comments/2jpxim/could_you_go_on_vacation_and_not_take_any_pictures/ )

The poster even makes the claim (that I think is valid) are our the photos we take on vacation simply more “digital junk”?  I think the answer could be, yes.

So next time when you’re on Vacation, set aside your smartphone, your iPad, your stupid Self-Stick, even your DSLR and embrace the natural wonder of creating a fresh memory that only you can remember and that you can let live forever.




Why I gave up saying “happy birthday” on Facebook.

So one of the things that I have done now for a while now is stopped saying happy birthday on Myface… err… Facebook.  So what i mean by that is… I’m not being an arse by not saying happy birthday to you on your special day, however, I feel it needed to actually be said in person to have much more of an impact.  Now before I get to deep into this I must address the points I wanted to make in this blog:

1) How have we allowed ourselves to become distant with our friends over social media sites?

2) Is a person any less of a friend if they do not wish you a happy birthday on said social media site?

3) Do people even care?

3 is a bit more harsh than 1 & 2 but it has me wondering just what exactly we’re saying.   Anyways… My personal reasons behind not saying happy birthday is simply because I feel like a jerk if I don’t actually say that to a person in person.  By that, I also have been thinking really hard about who I have listed as friends on my social networks and conversely, why they have me on their social networks.  The fundamental principle seems to be voyeurism of which allows us to peer into the thoughts and minds (albeit incomplete) of another person.   Another thing that ups the ante is pictures.  The old cliche that a picture is worth a 1,000 words?  Seemingly we are increasingly growing our communication channels by pictures and sights, not words.   So what does saying happy birthday on a media site mean to you?

To the second point, am I, Aaron Hockett any less of a friend to any of my friends by not poking, tweeting, commenting or giving you the thumbs up by liking something you’ve posted?  There have been some recent studies of narcissistic behavior in using these social sites.  One them (link to the PDF here ) dates back to 2008 in a time just before Facebook really started to take off after Myspace.com numbers started to dwindle.  In that study, people were found to be self-promoters.  The more recent studies (study up in Toronto here at York University) tend to show the side of ourselves in which to say… we’re probably least proud of?  So regardless of how many status updates you have, how many friends you have, why someone hasn’t responded to a facebook message or whatever, what is the difference if someone doesn’t wish you a happy birthday?

Now the flip side of this of course is positive re-enforcement and a level of acknowledgement in which I get and for those who do, keep on doing… but perhaps like we all realize from time to time… asking ourselves why we do it instead of just doing it.

To the last point… does anyone care?  One of the things I’ve talked about with some friends (because I do have a morbid sense of humor sometimes) is ensuring that my Twitter account keeps on tweeting after I pass away.  Not sure if I need to arrange in my will who will manage my account and make sure everything is auto-mated but isn’t that kind of weird to think about?  Aaron’s facebook page and twitter account getting updates after I’m physically gone.  Aside from that being absurd (which is why I love it) it begs the question I brought up in the beginning.  What is it we offer to each other and what do we give in return?  Is there a line in which we say enough or stop caring what people respond to?  Who knows.  Makes me wonder who is watching… and on the flip side… who is listening.

Until next time.