Paarth Madan

A medium to iterate on my own thoughts.

Social Memory

Posted at — Feb 23, 2021

Here’s an interesting question I was thinking about:

What percentage of my memories are shared by the people in them?

For instance, I have a memory of my Grade 1 crush – the memory involves her and our teacher. It’s extremely unlikely that they also remember this instance, but it makes you wonder: how many of the vast memories that I possess are shared? To what extent?

Symmetrically, I wonder how many memories exist of me that I wouldn’t remember, or that I don’t know of. Maybe the person crushing on me in Grade 2 asks the same thing. That’d be impossible, because I wasn’t the subject of a crush in Grade 2. That’s besides the point. Back to the question at hand, Paarth.

It’s a futile question. It’ll never be answered, and I’m not sure there is much value in the answer, anyways.

I think the concept of social memory is interesting though. So much of the human experience goes unnoticed – goes without memory. Most of my life is exclusive to my memory, if you will. For instance, absolutely no one will remember the time I walked to school in Grade 5, but I will.

It’s in those few, tiny instances when meaningful social connection occurs, that our memories are shared – social memory.

We like to claim we’re independent beings. I find this idea funny, particularly when paired with my memory of hundreds – possibly thousands – of people.

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