Tag: Memory

Wedding Blog Continued — How social media expands the mental frame

Last week I posted “The Marriage Blog: I put a ring on it,” and to date it’s my most successful blog post. I credit my beautiful wife for being such a great model. And today, I was going to write a post on my first trip to Las Vegas — which I’m still planning on for later this week — but my friend, fellow writer, and former colleague, Tania Cepero Lopez, helped me realize that I wasn’t finished with “The Marriage Blog.” I still had ideas I was leaving on the table, so I decided to push myself further.


Tania is a professor at Florida International University, and she teaches writing. If I dare, then I might also call her a rhetorician — a scholar. She is interested in the way we communicate, and she was particularly drawn to my post because of my questions posed on the way social media will help us remember. Check out her piece here: The Rhetorical Writer. In her post, Tania writes:

[Joe] identifies a problem: the way we remember is changing because our memory artifacts are changing. He’s concerned by this change and feels like it needs further attention, further exploration. Whether this change is good or bad is another story, a question he has not explored yet.

In a sense, Tania did me a huge favor; she analyzed my thoughts, broke down my writing, and, in a very admirable way, showed me where I stopped, where I could keep going, where my mind was wandering. If it wasn’t for her post, then I would have just moved on.



Oh yeah!!!

So now I must confront the question: Are these new ways of recording our lives — Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Google+, etc — good or bad? How are these social platforms changing the way we remember, and is it changing the way we, then, perceive our world? Woah, I just got wicked nerdy…lol.

Let me put it this way: On my wedding day, I knew I was going to have a gigantic challenge — staying in the moment. One of the hardest aspects of my life is staying in the present, not future tripping. On that day I knew I had to be aware of my world, be aware of the first time I kissed Heron as my wife, be able to smell the flowers as my cousin tossed them onto the floor, be able to feel how cold Heron’s skin was as we stood outside taking pictures in the freezing cold, be able to hear the guitar player strumming the melody of “Here Comes the Sun” as I walk back down the aisle. And I tried my hardest to capture those small details, those incredible small features of our world, and ingrain them into my memory so deeply that my vision of the past would be fuller.

That’s what I really want, and maybe what most of us want, is a full vision of who we were, once were, where we once were, in order to understand who we are now and in the future.

Now back to the original question: Are these social-media platforms good or bad? Well, the answer is obvious; it’s good. Tania points out that a result of being so connected is a faster exchange of ideas — in turn a growth in innovation. That’s an awesome point. Our blog posts are a microcosm of that effect.

So now I’m going to branch off from her idea a bit. All these social-media platforms are incredible for, yes, the freaking human being, because it expands our vision of the world; it expands the angles from which we can remember; it grows the perspective from which we can see.

Let me explain, dear reader. (Have I told you how much I love that you’re reading my blog?) Take a look at some of the pictures below. When I was dancing with Heron during our first dance, I was telling her, “Don’t look at anyone else. Look at me. No one else is here. This is our moment. Let’s be in the moment together.” Unfortunately, what I told Heron was a lie; we couldn’t be fully in the moment. No matter how hard we tried.

First Dance

Waiting to Come Inside


First Dance 2

And anyway our moment, staring at each other, was only a small part of the larger one — our family, the music, the sun setting over the marsh in the background, the position of the DJ, the crowd watching from behind. Because all our friends were there with their phones, recording the whole event, Heron and I now have a much fuller vision of our day. I can almost pop into different perspectives to see how the world, our world, looked for someone else. Then I blend it all together.

But wait, then what the hell happens to my memory? Does it become a collection of all of our memories? A collective memory? Social media as a collective memory?

Well, that’s a nice thought, but even with social media, we can’t capture all the stories — though it’s nice to think we can try. And at the most fundamental level, social media is giving us a fuller vision of our lives, a more advanced engine to remember our loved ones in ways previous generations never thought possible.