Your Memory Sucks And It’s All Facebook’s Fault

Flickr / Jacob Bøtter
Flickr / Jacob Bøtter

“When did you say your party was, again? I can’t remember. Oh! But did you see that John is in Aruba with his cat?”

Am I the only one tired of the too-frequent forgetfulness some people have, but complete awareness they maintain of the mundane details of the lives of acquaintances?

Research has found that the constant overflow of information we consume online can lead to short-term memory loss, according to an article published by MedicalDaily.com. I can’t say that I am surprised by these findings. If we are constantly consuming information, at some point all of that content jumbles together, and little of it sticks.

So why does this matter? Are our NewsFeeds and Dashboards filling up so much of our short-term memory that we’re actually being affected by it?

I think so.

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As comedian Louis C.K. recently said, we are forgetting how to just be. We’re online on the train, at work, during that party, and even at concerts – to the extent that one band I recently saw begged the audience to enjoy the show with their eyes, not through the screen on their phones.

It’s as if we are uncomfortable existing alone with ourselves, feeling our emotions, experiencing our senses. Instead, we need to be constantly in-the-know about people we might not even really care about, just to always feel connected to something, just to constantly have a comparison between ourselves and the seemingly exciting lives of others. Life has become a giant game of keeping up with the Jones’.

I digress. Back to our clogged brains.

Our newly-failing short term memory forces us to form new criteria for prioritizing what we remember and what gets lost in the mix.

Do we limit our intake of the oh-so-sexy activities displayed on our NewsFeed or do we keep our thumbs scrolling and hope that we remember when our sister is leaving to travel abroad? Do we designate time for relaxation without devices or do we continue to take our phones to the toilet?

To instill peace (and strength, and clarity) of mind, even though I do generally stay online all day, I follow these principles:

  • Set time aside each morning and night for meditation and deep thinking. Whether it is fifteen minutes during my morning commute or an hour on my couch, having some time to be alone with my thoughts always eases anxiety.
  • Always keep a notebook in my handbag. Writing down my random thoughts, weekend plans, strong opinions, etc. throughout the day is a must. Even if I’m convinced I’ll remember it, writing it down makes me feel refreshed and ready to move on to something else. My thoughts will be there later for me to reference.

I like to think that those things help me to maintain a fully functioning short-term memory, but I suppose time will tell.

How about you? Do you feel as if all that time spent online is affecting your recall? Do you employ any techniques to power off and keep your mind clear? TC mark

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