I remember we used to forget. We’d forget facts and phone numbers, who wrote a certain book, how to convert centimeters to inches, who won the Super Bowl in a given year. We forgot a lot of things and had no easy way of finding them out quickly. There was no Google or even Alta Vista. Even once we knew about search engines they were out of reach, tethered to the walls in our homes and offices in computers as heavy as stacks of bricks. When we were out and we couldn’t remember something our only choice was to forget.
I remember being on a date. We spent much of the evening trying to remember which movies won the Best Picture Oscar in which years. We started with the most recent one and worked our way back. My date wrote our answers in crayon on the white paper that covered the tablecloths at this particular restaurant. He would cross out answers and move the title to another year when we would change our minds. In the end we were pleased with our sloppy looking list. Was it right? We had no way, sitting there in that restaurant, to check our work. It didn’t matter. It was a fun way to pass the time.
I remember that if we wanted to know the lyrics to a song and they were not in the liner notes we had to just listen to that song over and over, very carefully, until we had transcribed every word into our juvenile notebooks.
I remember we used to rack our brains trying to unearth the details hidden inside of them. It could be frustrating, but if the answer was finally unearthed (“Rock Hudson!” “The 49ers!” “Carson City!”) it felt victorious!
But remembering takes time. It is quicker to just look up the answers. They live in our purses and pockets. On our wrists. Always in reach. It seems a shame to waste that. It is too tempting not to look. We need to know now, now, NOW!
There is so much to find out! There are so many things we’ve forgotten. What was that restaurant we went to? What other movies has this guy been in? People say LinkedIn is useless, but at least it can remind me of my former coworkers names.
There are so many things we don’t yet know. There are funny videos that other people have seen, and we want to see them too. There are birthdays and anniversaries and new babies. There is violence and natural disaster. Something has happened somewhere and we must know about it! We salivate at new message alerts.
I remember we used to forget instead of flooding our brains with a deluge of facts and news and messages. Much of it it overflows right back out again, but that’s okay. There is no incentive to remember. If we forget we can always find the answer again and again and again.
It seems so long ago. It is hard to remember those times when we didn’t constantly have vast amounts of information at our fingertips. But I will never fully forget those times. After all, I can always pull up this post on my phone to remind me.
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