Cultural Symptoms: ‘Digital Breadcrumbs’

Slate has a post titled “The Technologically Enhanced Memory: How will life change if we can’t forget anything?” Here is an excerpt:

My colleague Elizabeth Lawley, professor of interactive games and media at RIT, also has concerns about our evolving relation to what Mayer-Schönberger calls “digital memory.” Consider Timehop, a lifelogging app that performs “memory engineering.” Interfacing with check-in and geo-tagging programs like Foursquare, the app sends users reminders of what they accomplished a year ago. These blasts from the past encourage us to consider social media technology tools for simultaneously journaling and broadcasting. While this outlook can be beneficial, Lawley raises an interesting question: If we go through life aware we’re leaving behind a detailed digital archive that future generations can read, might we be inclined to behave inauthentically so that our digital breadcrumbs point back to idealized versions of ourselves? Along these same lines, Princeton psychology professor Daniel Kahneman likes to draw upon a distinction between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self.” He proposes a provocative thought experiment: “You know that at the end of the vacation all of your pictures will be destroyed, and you’ll get an amnesic drug so that you won’t remember anything. Now, would you choose the same vacation?” If you wouldn’t, it might be because you value memories of an experience more than lived experience.

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