Why do we remember some things and not others?

Curated by Meg Birmingham

Someone recently told me that they’re starting to forget what it was like to live in isolation from March 2020 onward; upon reflection, I realized I’m starting to forget too. According to Vice it could be because, even though the pandemic is a capital “B” Big History Event, it was not necessarily emotionally charged. 

This took me down a rabbit hole of what memory looks like and why and how we remember things. In 2018, Cristian Candia and his team studied how long events hold humanity’s attention, and as it turns out there’s a way to measure it. 

“[Candia and] his team analyzed the collective attention paid to five different kinds of cultural objects: music, movies, athlete biographies, patents, and scientific papers. Across every domain, the authors argue, there is a universal truth to the decay of collective memory: two kinds of memory are at play, and one dissolves much more quickly than the other.” 

Communicative memory is a short-term kind of memory in society, based on how we talk about our experiences. Cultural memory on the other hand is much longer lasting and is based on our concepts of knowledge. 

Living in isolation may be actively phasing out of our communicative memory, but COVID itself will probably exist in our cultural memory for a long, long time. 

The rest of this week’s Too Dope Not to Share is all about Memory and how it impacts us, how we can use it to our advantage, and intentionally develop our ability to remember things that are important to us. 

5 Things You Can Do Now.

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