It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything science or technology related, and all I can say, is that I forgot. I have the memory of a goldfish, that’s very selective on what’s worth remembering. For instance, I can quote Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Spaceballs almost verbatim, or sing Rent or Wicked or Phantom of the Opera, the Sarah Brightman years, to off-key perfection, but I couldn’t tell you what I did on Tuesday. Today. The day I posted this article. So, suffice it to say that I found it rather funny that a month after it’s airing, websites were re-posting articles, on social media, about a PBS documentary called, Memory Hackers, something I wanted to write about a month ago, but of course, forgot.
I don’t think I need to tell you that memory is a funny thing. Our memories are known to be fluid and can be manipulated. We try to hold onto memories that make us happy, and scrub away the ones that make us sad. Our brains don’t always like to cooperate, letting us forget some of the good, and just put on replay some of the bad. Apparently, that will soon be a thing of the past.
Sci-fi TV and movies play with memory all the time with shows like Supernatural, where Dean has Castiel, erase the memories of two people he cared about, Lisa and Ben, to protect them from…okay, maybe I shouldn’t have used that as an example, I mean, the show has a HUGE mythos. How about Inception, where a band of specialists enter a person’s dreams to plant an idea, that would not only redeem Cobb from his career of stealing information through dreams, but maybe reunite him with his family, and at the same time commit the perfect crime, if only the top would stop spinning, because maybe he’s still dreaming…. Okay, I don’t know if those were the best choices to prove a point, but they are a decent way to illustrate what science has achieved.
Science has found away to remove memories, and implant new ones.
Many years ago, something happened in my life that changed me in a profoundly negative way. I sought therapy, and apparently my psychiatrist diagnosed me with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and prescribed me some quaint, little drugs to cope. It’s been a long time, but those events still haunt me, like that bacon deodorant that I thought would be funny, but ended up just making me smell like sweaty spam. Now, with this memory drug, I can potentially forget that traumatic event, and replace it with the one where I become a famous rapper. Which could happen.
Some may say that we are the product of our experiences, good or bad. Others may say that they do not believe in regret (which is valid thing to believe). And Josh Trank probably wishes he never made Fant4stic. I’m also sure everyone wishes that they never let curiosity get the better of them and actually watched two girls, one cup. All I’m saying, is that even though we are made up of our memories, would we not be better off forgetting that we actually sat through one entire episode of the Kardashians? Nothing can really scrub out that dirty feeling.
I realize this is a dangerous precedent, being able to manipulate the mind in ways, only thought possible in movies. Science is literally changing the playbook of how you remember your life. We can help soldiers forget about the traumas of war, or help the abused move forward by removing them from that environment, and implanting nurturing, comforting memories. And maybe, in my case, I could remove those lingering, bad memories from my past, and possibly return myself to the “better” man I once was. But then, would I still be me? Would I prefer to replace that sad nostalgia, with a happier, “what could have been?”
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Unless you forgot you did that already. Or maybe…we placed that thought in there, making you think you didn’t do it, so you’d do it again. Comment-ception.