12 thoughts on “Memories: question”

  1. I’d say others have less storage room in their minds as you :-). What kind of things are you talking about?

  2. Conversations, events, and particularly things people said that I found offensive. I find that often WO and my parents can’t seem to recall that they would have said such things…

  3. you are more likely to remember something that made an impression on you – a stinging comment, for instance – than the oblivious person who said it. they likely didn’t think it over later the way you did, making your memory of it a great deal stronger.

  4. Or take someone like me and it really doesn’t matter if you remember it or not because I probably don’t remember.

    You can ask Dr. 7 about that. I only bother to recall or retain information if it is really, really vital to me at that moment. I rarely string events together if they have a large time span between them.

    Of course, I also happen to have the uncanny ability to use tidbits of information from various conversations at a future point and not be able to explain to you when or where I received that piece of information.

    A stinging comment from me (unless made in anger) will most likely be forgotten within about 5 minutes because I really didn’t bother to add it to long term memory – that’s why conversations lasting more than 5 minutes with me are really rather pointless. 😉

    And for the record you probably are insane.

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  6. You are not insane unless the memories stick in the forefront of your mind, taunt you endlessly, and cause you to develop a some sort of complex. A clear memory is a blessing, so long as you have command of it and not the other way around.

  7. I’m with Mae on this. There are far better things to call yourself insane over. 🙂

    I find I frequently run into this situation, particularly with my mother, even on a one-conversation scale (e.g., “Why did you ask me about it if you didn’t want to talk about it?” “I didn’t!”, etc.). Fortunately, my father is better at remembering the reality of the situation than my mother (which is interesting since she has a better memory than he under most circumstances). Unfortunately, she doesn’t tend to take it too well when he tells her she’s wrong, so I’ve stopped asking for his confirmation on things like this.

    Jenny has a point (you’re more likely to remember something that you had a strong negative reaction to), but I don’t think that fully explains it. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a question of how *much* the two of you thought about it, it’s a question of *how* the two of you thought about it. If you remind someone of something they said, you invariably describe it or raise it in the light you saw it in at the time. They, on the other hand, won’t have seen it that way.

    Thus, if you say that their words of wisdom changed your life, their mind will tell them that they didn’t give you any words of wisdom, and even if you remind them of the exact wording of the thing said, they will probably say “I never said that!” (I’d like to think I don’t do this, but I know better, since I’ve come close to this experience; only saying to myself, “You know, I was probably just making conversation at the time,” allowed me to actually remember what I had said. The person in question was in fact quoting me verbatim.)

    Ditto when you remind someone of something in a way that clearly indicates that you found it insensitive or inappropriate. The person’s mind will say, “I didn’t say anything that wasn’t completely justified and correct,” and they’ll deny it. (I’m not sure whether this is due to a refusal to acknowledge that they’re flawed or just innocently trying to look up the memory in the wrong place; I suspect it changes from situation to situation.)

    I don’t know whether this applies to any of the ones you’re dealing with, but people attached to the concept of a “metareality” are particularly prone to this variable recall. I may be overextrapolating here, but I’ve known many, many people who are imbued with a subconscious (usually) belief that “reality” is somehow different than “the facts.” “The facts” may be that they did or said a particular thing, but “reality” is slightly different from that, in a (usually) inexplicable way. This is why many people can justify doing themselves what they don’t tolerate in others, or (conversely) can feel guilty about things they would never condemn in others; they genuinely *do* believe in both the standard they’re enforcing for themselves and the standard they’re using to judge others. I often wonder if everyone has this trait, and I suspect I won’t like the answer.

    At any rate, what people remember is “reality.” They don’t remember trivial details unless they especially value facts; they remember what [they think] the simplified version of what happened was. So when someone’s ideas about what is important differ substantially from yours, you run into problems: someone may simplify “I told her no one would ever want her if she didn’t put out” to “I helped her be more realistic,” and when you bring up the former situation they really, truly think you’re a liar. And they yell at you accordingly. Oh, man, do they yell.

    I could say more about this, but I’ve already blogjacked and I really, really didn’t mean to. Arka out.

  8. I hold to the opinion that we have perfect memory storage, but lousy recall. Some people (ie you) are exceptionally better at retrieval.

    Interestingly, in the past I came across some research that demonstrated that there seem to be regions of the brain that take things literally and an opposing force that makes stuff up. It was used in context of memory, and ignoring the details I can’t recall, some details in memories are generated on the spot.

    I would think then that we only pull out the details that are deemed important, and then possibly the universe’s most elegantly complex extrapolating routines fill in the gaps. Think of the sorting and pruning process you face while sleeping, but in reverse – where your brain very carefully chooses what data is allowed into the conscious realm.

    Perhaps you are sensitive to the key details, and thus remember crucial details with the rest naturally following deductively. I tend to remember just enough completely arbitrary details to be able to extrapolate with certainty (like when I forgot the name of a music group I heard the other day: it started with a ‘qu’, was six to seven letters long, had an ‘n’, and the cover was sparse with one off center interesting point – FYI it was Quango’s Cantoma CD).

    A whole lot can be learned about each other if we study the similarities and patterns of each other’s recall. And darn if it doesn’t help in anticipating arguments and falacies 🙂

  9. I have a subquestion, then, if anyone is still listening. If I am the only one that remembers, is that really any proof that the event occured? My memory is really no less faulty than anyone else’s.

  10. It depends on how you remember it. Is there an image recorded in your mind (or audio, or transcript, or whatever) of the event?

    Or do you have to work hard to reconstruct what they said?

    The former makes it more likely that it happened, the latter less likely. Of course, the most honest answer is the most unpleasant one: sure, maybe there’s proof that the event occured, but it’s hard to tell.

    However, it’s very rare that you’re really the only one that remembers…

    And you know, you can always instruct someone else to remember it at the time it occurs. I volunteer myself. 🙂

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