Think of one thing you did today.
What did you do, where and why?
Now take a step back, take in the context, the moments before, after; the sensory details – the smell in the air, the temperature, humidity, colours, textures. What do you recall? How much of the recollection do you think is accurate?
Fast forward a year, ten years, fifty.
On your deathbed your son your daughter will, out of love, mine your mind for memories for what s/he thinks is her birthright. Chemical stimulation plus the ability to record with some degree of fidelity.
If you think losing control of your body is bad. Imagine what is like to lose control of your mind. Not in today’s sense of memory loss, alzheimer’s, but rather in the sense that someone is able to view what you experienced, probe, trigger, direct moments, recollection, you get to watch your life slide by.
So far, so good.
Now imagine those memories that you’re not so interested in recalling, that drunk night out, the break up, the petty teenage thievery, private moments in bathrooms, bedrooms, hotels and gutters. Those choices that, on reflection were not so smart. Or rather that they were interesting, outlandishly experiential as private events, but open to interpretation when shared. Go back five years, ten, fifty and reconsider how dusty, tinted, scratched, warped the lens through which these events will be considered.
Interpretation = time passed x lack of context x intergenerational change x value of the day.
But for us to get to this point we pass through a period of memory exploration, capture with ever increasing fidelity, ever refined interpretation. Some point after our ability to read and record minds with sufficient fidelity, we also figure out the ability to block memories, to lock them away, to hide them from future prying eyes.
There was a generation before mobile natives with all that that implies.
There was a generation before the digital natives with all that that implies.
And eventually there will be a generation before “mind recollection and recording” with all that that implies.
And some time after that there will be a generation before the ability to block and contain memories with all that that implies.
And it is between these points, when one generation is ramping up and figuring out what it means to be a native and another is rapidly being left behind that there will be a bare-naked gap, where your actions from decades ago will be judged by the values of the day.
And you’ll be on your deathbed, with a life time of uncaged memories being laid bare. And the killers and rapists and fraudsters and thieves and torturers and hit-and-run drivers and (insert moral lens assumptions 50 years from now) will have their day, before their other day. How does your genration view schools without metal detectors, or opium dens, smoking, corporal and capital punishment, Hummer town-mileage? And how will the next?
Regret is wonderful thing.