Friday, December 23, 2011

May We Ever Forget?

There are certain lessons in life that I hope never to forget. Stove tops are very hot. The word "safety razor" does not mean that you can't slice open your finger if you run it across the blades to test how safe it is. The words "Tear Free" on the bottle of baby shampoo does not mean that you can apply a drop of the liquid directly to your eye without some pain.

Human society has lessons we must never forget. We must not forget the terrible toll hatred and intolerance can take upon our sisters and brothers. We must not forget how easy it is to turn a people into a number and then systematically slaughter them. We must not forget that human dignity extends to all people - regardless of race, sex, color, creed, orientation, and economic status - and that all persons must be treated with respect.

Yet, are there things that we ought to forget or, at the least, be allowed to forget?

  • That time you had too much to drink and told those gathered what you felt about so-and-so.
  • That time you made a fool of yourself at Karaoke.
  • That time you sent a text that you failed to read carefully...realizing, only too late, that sometimes Auto-correct does the strangest things...
  • That time you had a spectacular wipe-out as you attempted to slide into home plate.
  • That time you professed your eternal and undying love to someone, only to be totally rejected.
  • That time you ___________________(insert here)
Last night, I heard someone in a restaurant say, "Be careful! That might end up on Facebook." This got me to thinking: there really is no such thing as social amnesia any longer. Anything we do can be frozen and put on Facebook; anything we perform can be videotaped and put on YouTube. The mundane moments of our lives can easily be enshrined forever on servers and networks, downloaded by whoever, whenever, and for whatever reason. 

As Facebook rolls out the new Timeline feature, it strikes me that there is no longer any "social forgetting," no chance for the past to be the past, for bygones to be bygones, for things to stay buried. We now have a collective, computerized conscience who stores all, recalls all, and remembers all...even when, or especially when, we'd like for it to be forgotten. 

New technology will continue to call for greater reflection and discernment. In a world where people can use a phone to dial grandma or take a video, we need to begin a frank discussion on how these technologies are to be incorporated in a healthy way into our lives. I am all for the use of technology, but I'm afraid that if we continue to embrace new technological advances without due discernment, we risk walking into our future carrying not only the lessons we have learned from experience, but also the servers on which those lessons are stored. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Ryan,
I, for one, am certainly glad that facebook did not exist during my "misspent youth!"

All my love,
Mary Otis