**Spoiler – there are no amusing images in this piece. For this, I apologise – next time I will do many. I currently don’t have the time to find any, and also the subject matter was rather difficult to find any good ones. [I think putting a picture of Pumbaa is a little far-fetched when talking about pig-headed people, see below]. Also, heavy stuff. I hope you enjoy reading it. Let me know what you think in the comments section.**
SO first and foremost: I am going to quote two pieces of advice that have come to me, I don’t know, third or fourth hand, from Fiona Ellis.
The first comes from Heidegger, who viewed philosophers as individuals who, upon proposing certain arguments and ways of thinking, acting or being, worked with presuppositions and assumptions that they often fail to question when asking their particular questions. There are questions they leave out, that often are rather important if one really wishes to get to the heart of what is at issue, when arguing for, well, whatever you like. Heidegger’s advice is thus:
Do not assume that you know exactly what is at issue.
By extension, don’t be pig-headed, assuming that whatever question you are asking is the right kind of question [or indeed, the wrong kind], and as such, question your question. Question whether it ought to be asked. If I for instance, asked something tautologous or easy enough to answer such as “are bachelors unmarried men?” or “is the sky really blue?” you mightn’t even bother to answer it, or at best give a hurried answer of “of course.” The second question might be slightly more problematic when understanding what colour is and how it works in the atmosphere etc, but essentially, you look at the sky and see blue. There might be deeper questions that need asking though, such as how ought I understand the way I perceive colour?
So as not to digress too much however, I shall hurry on to the next piece of advice. So firstly, Heidegger gives us a punch of humility, and secondly we are going to take it slow with Wittgenstein, who, appropriately considering the nature of his work, said:
Take your time.
You might well now be thinking that Philosophy is very much about never coming to conclusions and taking ages to not come to said conclusions, and you might well be right! But – you might also be wrong. The issue at hand today is one that I saw on the Guardian website, second-hand from a friend on Facebook, entitled “Why we must remember to delete – and forget – in the digital age.”
Now privacy is another of my interests, if it isn’t specifically noted on the innerests pahje. It concerns me deeply, particularly in an age when data can be recorded and recalled in a way that Google and the rest of the innernet allows.
I think that remembering is very valuable. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I can remember a lot. From the taste of the marmite-on-weetabix that my Mother used to make me when I was very small, to the smell of our old camper van we had when I was ten, to a conversation I held with an old boyfriend about his sister’s [then unknown] pregnancy, I think my memory might be a tad more powerful than some people’s. Mostly it is experiential memory, rather than something like mathematical, physics based memory for things like equations and ways that things are programmed, and you may well be much better than me at those kinds of memory. And, at other kinds of memory. My short-term memory can, sometimes, be terrible! But other times, I end up remembering things for a lifetime. Sometimes, useless things!
Thankfully I am not as precise as the lady cited in the article, who could remember every item of breakfast for forty years as well as everything said in every phonecall ever, but here is my exact issue with the article: Mayer-Schönberger did not specify exactly which kinds of memories he was talking about. He may well do in his book, however, but it means that the article is rather misleading.
For instance, he says that he got rid of the majority of his father’s slides and his diary entires were effectively worthless to him; but I have to disagree, to an extent. Some diary entires can be terribly banal, but it doesn’t stop them being created by that wonderful person you know/knew who wrote them. Some slides and photographs can be terrible, and it is right to destroy them, but not only via the criteria that ‘it’s a good photo’ or ‘there’s someone in it I know’.
The little things are often rather important, I think.
Memory is not too difficult to master, in my own experience. If you want to remember something, do so. Or do not do so. Maybe I’m just that little bit autistic. My housemate is notoriously bad for short-term memory and rules such as “replace the looroll when you have finished it”, “keep the salt on the right hand side of the cooker” etc – so this lack of critical memory leads to carelessness. Indeed, I myself can be careless, but it’s about working certain memories into habit. This morning I was distressed my deodorant was where it shouldn’t be, but then remembered I had merely left it on the shelf below. But I have to keep it on the above shelf so as not to have that mini-heart attack of WHY ISN’T IT THERE?! Constantly lose my keys and all. But, I love my memory. Granted, I can’t – and actively refuse to – remember all my breakfasts ever [mostly bacon sandwiches doe] nor each telephone call I have ever had, but there are certain things that, for whatever odd reason, I can’t forget.
As such, forgetting is NOT an easy thing to do! There are times I WISH I could forget, such as the time that I bought someone the wrong drink due to not hearing them properly, such as calling a teacher ‘Mum’, and other situations involving embarrassment and shame. Similarly, someone who is a victim of something like abuse can surely not find it easy to forget such hideous memories as being molested or raped.
There are distinct criteria for what we can forget easily, and it is treated rather casually in the article, which I don’t really like. Is it really that bad to remember everything? Surely, in contrast, we ought to be well aware of the past, so as to not be condemned to repeat it! Also, we cannot just BE victims of horrible acts, but take some responsibility for our future[s].
In retrospect then, I’m talking very much about the individuals concerned. The article gives an example of a teacher, a lady, who was treated like a criminal by parents of her children after they found a mugshot of her online, long after she had served her time. The article states that “‘Digital memory, in reminding us of who she was more than 10 years ago, denied her the chance to evolve and change.’ This story, he argues, typifies how digital memory denies us the capacity to forgive.”
I do not agree with this, at all. It is not digital memory that denies us the capacity to forgive, but the parents of the children who can’t see clearly enough to understand how long ago it was, and understand that she did her time. It is very much a question of temperance – of how much is appropriate to punish, and also to have online.
As such, it is clear that stored information ought to be deleted after an appropriate amount of time, but often that isn’t quantifiable and certainly isn’t easy to judge. When would the expiry date of a mugshot be, for instance? Once they are out of prison? Businesses that buy these mugshots to make money from the people who want them taken down don’t have a conscience about that, it seems.
It also gives the example of facebook – and how everything can be recalled instantly. A drunken night out, conflicting interests, etc. I say people need to stand up and be responsible for their lives.
Gone are the days when I had two facebook accounts – one for the real me and one for the drag me – because I think that there is much more value in understanding the person as a whole. Yes, I am a drag queen. Do I want my parents to know? Sure, why not? It’s still me. Sure, I curse a lot. Sure, I will post song-lyrics as my facebook status if they hit my mood right. Sure, I will link to amusing websites and my own blog because I enjoy sharing humour and my own writing. Do I want others to not know that I do all these things? Why should I?
I think there is true value in the honesty of being open with people. There are certain spheres of the self you can keep private, and I do, and keep them very close to my heart. I let people in here who I am close to, but only these people. But just because I expel other parts of me all over the internet doesn’t mean I’ve spread myself too thin, like butter over too much bread. Not at all. But I am responsible for it. If I were to commit a crime, heaven forbid, I assume my shame would be another of my open ravings. But would I hide it away? No, I would hold my head up high and say ‘yes, I did wrong – but the important thing is that now, I’m looking to do right.’ Redemption cannot be so easily destroyed as people think. They might think it’s in their interests to punish a neighbour for a crime committed, but it’s frankly none of their business. Everyone keeps their own opinions, of course, and it’s wonderful we have freedom of speech in this country, but we also have democracy.
The problems come with everyone else, as usual. Society, our employers, the people we live nearby. I say screw them all. One ought to be particularly professional, and unGooglable to an employer, sure. One ought to be. But if an employer does find something untoward regarding an employee, they ought to also respect that employee as an individual with a life that is beyond working, however perverse, strange, or alcohol-consumptive!
I don’t think that things ought to die, either [photos, writings and the like]. They ought to live forever, and yet mankind does itself an injustice by forgetting about the dynamism of life. Things change, people change, but they ought to be held accountable for their actions – both good, and bad. Credit where credit is due and all that.
So, ought we remember to forget? I doubt it. We should always remember. Forgive, but never forget.
So now I’ve had my rant, that regrettably has few pictures or links in it, what say you? I’ve taken my time in writing this, so apologies as well for the length!
Maybe I am working with certain presuppositions such as the human being being intrinsically valuable no matter what its flaws (hopefully a loving presupposition). Perhaps also, I take for granted my expansive memory and think others ought to have the same, remembering not only the tiny and beautiful intricacies of life, but also the darkness and the pain. All of these things help us work towards a more holistic understanding of what mankind is, don’t they?
I might well be very, very wrong. But I can only come to know this via communication. [Though maybe I’m wrong about that, too].
ps – Pride London was on Saturday. I had a lovely time. If I find any good pictures I’ll pop them up, apparently there was one at the BBC website but it was taken down, I’m assuming it was due to the Youth@Pride logo showing the website, which may have been construed as advertising. If you don’t know, I was in the parade. If you find any pics, don’t hesitate to let me know where they are! xXx
Pps – Coming soon – Love’s illusion.