Things I No Longer Need to Remember

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Phone Numbers (programmed).

Birthdays (Facebook).

Appointments (Calendar alarm).

Medicine (Seven-day container).

Due dates (autopay);

Students’ names (though I rarely remembered them to begin with); meetings, sub-committee duties, office hours. Where I was in my notes the last time I lectured.

I don’t need to know directions anymore, or the names of the best restaurants someone told me about when I asked directions somewhere, because I have GPS, so I didn’t stop to ask directions to begin with, and the same device guides me to the five-star diners.

We are apt to forget all the minutia we remembered from friends and helpful local residents because there is an app for that now; we are programmed to forget.

The world has changed; technology has distanced us, we know this, we’ve written and talked and studied and argued this for a long time; it has made more things possible but has sidelined the braincells we flexed on an almost hourly basis, even when we simply wanted to call home.

And the people have changed, no longer asking others to take their picture in front of some monument, preferring instead the vantage of a six-feet long pole. We don’t call to make reservations, we don’t even talk to the cashier at the fast food counter, opting instead for computer screen six feet away so we don’t have to interact.

We don’t need to remember anymore how to interact.

Except in political discussions. Then we interact, argue, fight, dismiss, infuriate. Infuriate. From what I remember on the news last night, we no longer need to remember how to be gracious, understanding, kind, human. We no longer have any need to recall common courtesy, respect, accepting of differences, or be politically correct.

We can forget about what others believe in, what others worship, what others find beautiful. We can disregard the golden rule; we might have long ago forgotten the golden rule.

I started to talk about this with my students one night two years ago after the election; they just stared at me waiting for me to get to some point. I forget what one of them said that made me give up.

I brushed my hand in the air: “Forget it,” I said.

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One thought on “Things I No Longer Need to Remember

  1. Oh, Bob! I lament these things all the time. Student names? I’m ashamed when, three weeks in, I still don’t know them. The Golden Rule? Interaction with an individual at the cash register at Panera Bread? Hubs says it’s just another way to avoid paying someone a wage, but as you point out, there’s obviously more to it. Social Anxiety, I think is partly the fault of 24/7 news channels that told us all we have to be afraid to let our children of our sight.

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