The Human Touch: Forgive and Forget

We forget where we put things, people’s names or what we ate for breakfast this morning.  Now we forget, in addition to the aforementioned things:

  • documents we created
  • what’s on our hard drives
  • important email conversations
  • the thousands of images & video still waiting to be organized…

yet once we rediscover these things, a memory appears, or a sudden rush of emotion. Perhaps it is for these moments that we like to hoard our possessions, especially in digital formats.

Forgetting, however, is part of being human.  As a result of this human characteristic, we have always devised ways to capture important information in some sort of external “memory.” Until a couple decades ago, we would carefully select which things were worth remembering outside of our brains.  Formats varied and included things like cassette tapes, film reels, paper, slides, photographs, floppy discs, CDs.  Before that things like stone tablets and scrolls would have been used to record society’s most important memories. Prior to cheap, abundant digital storage, saving everything was impossible because of three key factors:

  • cost
  • time
  • space

Now we take it for granted that we can save everything digitally like emails, documents, photos, video, music, etc. Is this a benefit?  Do we need to remember everything?  Are we able to keep track of what’s been saved?

Cluttered bedroom.  How do you know what you have?

Cluttered bedroom. How do you know what you have?

I’ve experienced plenty of things I would actually like to forget.  I’m relieved no digital reminders exist for some of my most embarrassing, humiliating or painful experiences.  Another benefit to not having painful experiences captured in an external memory is the freedom my brain has to recreate and evolve the memories into something that works better for me.  It’s part of being human that goes along with the forgetting.  I’ve learned you can’t change what happened, but you can change how you interpret a memory over time, or just forget about it completely.  Forgive and forget, right?

Human Brain - best computer ever.

Human Brain – best computer ever.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t use available resources for an external memory.  But I feel like we save things too quickly without any regard to what we’re saving or why.  While it can be fun to uncover long, lost treasures when cleaning up clutter, it makes me wonder: if we don’t remember we have it in the first place, is it such a big deal if we don’t have it at all?

Do you save more because of available digital storage?  Cast your vote in this week’s poll.

1 comment for “The Human Touch: Forgive and Forget

  1. 18 September 2014 at 11:13

    I absolutely save everything – and as a result took over a month to rename and categorize all my music on my hard drive and photos etc. It was a killer

    I Realized I was keeping so much stuff ”just because I wanted to keep it and not because I ever listened to or looked at it” – but I agree satisfaction is hard to achieve even after a months work because I cant see evidence of my de-clutter.

    The upside however is when I next have to transfer the stuff to a new laptop I know exactly what I have and I can delete easier without being scared of losing important stuff I may not know I have.

    Making me think twice about stuff i rarely give much thought to, I now save less and delete often – Thanks Lisa 🙂

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