Eric Evans

Registered Psychotherapist

Toronto Psychotherapist working with depression, anxiety, serious illness, creativity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer issues.

Whose memory is it anyway?

Wikipedia always gives me pause. It's an amazing tool, and an always available encyclopedia and an opportunity for mindless entertainment for those who like that sort of entertainment. But in another way, I wonder about what our culture is doing. 

In a similar way with more mundane things like cell phones remembering phone numbers, Wikipedia exist, in part, to remember everything so that we don't have to. This exists in a persistent trope which says something like: we can create things to do everything for us. We have a persistent myth that we need more "leisure"; more time to do the "things that are really important". Not chopping an onion or remembering something. 

On a deeper level we have said that all the everyday "tasks' we do as people which we characterize as mundane or onerous are much less important than other things. What those other things might be I'm not sure. Waterskiing? Novel-writing? Isn't feeding yourself and your loved ones important? Isn't spending time to wash something not an important part of living? We have this myth, and perhaps have always had it, that what we're really working towards - making money mostly - a time when we don't have to do those things. We can "enjoy ourselves", as if we don't literally enjoy being ourselves except when we're sightseeing or creating great art. Why can't I enjoy the experience of myself while walking to the grocery store and walking back, laden? 

Wikipedia and similar structures also puts us as a culture at some peril. Simply put, if electricity becomes impossible to produce or sustain, then all that knowledge will be gone. This assumes that we have gotten out of the habit of remembering things or recording our culture in other ways. I know this is rather apocalyptic thinking, but I do think it's a reasonable extension of the ways we think we should be living now.