Imagine yourself at a concert. (It does not really matter what kind of music genre, but for the sake of the scenario, maybe some pop artist?) You can hear the beginning of a new song and immediately recognize it from your own playlist. Everyone else does too. Which results in grabbing your phone in a panic and, hopefully, being able to film the whole song. With the thought: ‘When I play this back I will remember everything exactly as I experienced it right now.’ But, in the end, this video gets lost forever in your google drive and like many more videos, forgotten.

With the coming of new media technologies and especially the digital age it is easier and easier to capture and preserve anything we like at any time we deem necessary. From capturing your breakfast to filming a fight on the street. Some people even make a lot of money with filming their daily lives and posting it on Youtube for the whole world to see. But, why do we want to capture everything? Does this mean we are remembering more, or are we actually forgetting more?

The urge to preserve everything comes from the anxiety of forgetting. Look back at the scenario, this is a situation that many would not want to forget. Thus, we try and capture the moment. Because it is special, it is part of a certain experience we had or an experience that, in a way, formed our self-identity. This means when something is unique, we feel the urge to capture and preserve it. To be able to look back at it.

But, there are two problems with this urge to preserve. The first, we do not only capture special moments but every moment. We start with only taking pictures of things we find special or remarkable, situations we might want to share with others. But, one night I made a lovely meal for myself and felt the immediate need to take a picture of it. And the night after, I do it again. And again. And again. In the end, we start to not only capture remarkable things but everything that is ‘special’ in one way or another. Which leads to constantly capturing everything.

The second problem is the result of the first problem. When we capture everything, there is no selection anymore. When we start to capture everything we find even a little interesting, the selectiveness falls away. First, we classified situations into two categories. 1: Remarkable 2: Not remarkable. When we took a picture or felt the need to capture something, it was a situation following from the first category. Something that was special in a way. But now, what we find special or worth preserving, has almost no selection. Everything falls under category 1. Which means we are constantly busy with capturing and preserving (and maybe even sharing) everything.

The fault within capturing everything is the intention. We try and capture it, initially to preserve it, and to not forget it. But when everything is being captured and being selective is harder than ever, we forget to look back. We may capture everything, store it in the Cloud, and then forget about its existence. Maybe once a year, you will organize the Cloud, throw some stuff away (but only because there was no storage space left, so you had to delete some). But in the end, we forget about the videos and photos we have taken throughout the years.

But why do we forget it when we intended to not forget it? We started taking the pictures to be sure to remember the situation, so why do we then forget it afterwards? It seems like a paradox. We preserve to forget. Or, we forget to remember. The reason we are forgetting the pictures we take or the videos we film is because of the amount we end up with. Nowadays we take so many pictures, and it can be done so easily and be stored so easily. We have no filter anymore. We capture everything, delete nothing and end up with four thousand pictures on our iPhones. The number of media documents we receive each day is too much to remember. And thus, we forget.

It is of course not a bad thing to capture everything. I mean, go ahead, nobody will stop you. In essence, there is nothing wrong with wanting to take pictures or videos. What I tried to point out, and this is what I think is important to change, is the intention we take the pictures with. It is all about awareness. Being aware of capturing everything, but also being aware of the risk we might forget all of it. So, it is not a ‘bad’ thing to vlog or to film an entire concert, just rethink your own intention by taking the picture or filming the video. Change your intention. Because nowadays remembering, means forgetting.

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3 Comments

  • charlesfroylan
    Posted September 22, 2019 at 2:45 pm 0Likes

    While I do think it is fine to be opinionated about people wanting to record or perhaps ‘over-record’, there are a couple things I would argue against in this blog. There are many reasons for wanting to record moments, but I would argue people wanting to ‘remember everything exactly as experienced’ is not one of them, which you would find out is not possible after filming your first few videos ever.

    This past summer, I had a wonderful road trip across West-side USA, where I took many photos and videos. Rather than stemming from anxiety to forget, my fascination and interests were peaked at almost all times, so I recorded these beautiful stories to share them with my family and friends. These stories included photos of ‘regular’ groceries from Walmart; these were remarkable to me though that may not be at all for US citizens. I think there is a similar case to be made for people taking photos anywhere, from concerts to visiting cities to you making yourself a lovely meal.

    Having online clouds to store our data on means so that we do not have to remember; I hope you can see the convenience in this. We can pull up any photos from the past few years anytime we want, in the case your, or a collective memory rises to the topic. Which is in my opinion, a wonderful feature of our times. This blog may have been a wonderful opportunity for you to also perhaps remind people to check their Clouds!

    I think there could be a case made for people missing out on experiences due to always wanting to record, but even then I would not be able to decide that for others. The main point I am trying to make is that there may be plenty of non-harmful (and even great) reasons to record which you have not touched upon.

    Cheers!

    • LTMicajkov
      Posted September 23, 2019 at 3:18 pm 0Likes

      Hi Charles,

      First, thank you for your feedback!
      I think you raised some valid points, but I, of course, want to point out that this is one perspective on ‘over-recording’. I agree with you that there are positive sides to recording experiences, but, personally, when I record experiences from my life and store them afterwards. I completely forget they existed, until I may open my Google drive by accident and end up scrolling through it for the rest of the day. So, I agree with you that it may also function as a sort of ‘remembrance’ drive. But, I think most of the time we end up with too much media documents (unless you are a great organizer of course) to have the time to find or look at everything you have stored. I do think it is an interesting concept to touch upon, so thank you for enlightening me with your ideas!

      Kind regards,
      Liona

  • Philipp26897
    Posted September 23, 2019 at 6:24 pm 0Likes

    hey,
    interesting idea that you raise. However, I also think it is a little bit extreme to say it stems from the anxiety of forgetting, because if we had a great experience in the past we will mostly remember this experience with or without photo. I think a photo helps your friends and family to step into your shoes an try to imagine how the experience for you personally was or simply get an idea what you did. On the other hand if you experienced all events with the same emotion and non of the events was standing out, then I think is it quite difficult to remember all of them. So in this case a photo might be a trigger to remember the event. But to remember all of the photos that we take is definitely impossible. I completely agree.
    Lastly, a comment to your last paragraph. I think it is good to reduce the amount of capturing because if you are taking pictures all of the time you probably cannot enjoy the event to the full. And if you cannot enjoy it as you could have had you might not be able to remember it as good as you could have had. One picture might have a greater impact than 300 pictures of the same event. Scarcity must be good 😉

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