re­mem­ber me?

Scout - - contents - EU­NICE BEATRICE BRAGA un­in­ten­tion­ally digs up pieces of her past thanks to Face­book’s On This Day fea­ture

SOME PEO­PLE LIKE TO COL­LECT TOYS. Some col­lect gad­gets. Some col­lect vinyls. Some col­lect clothes. Some col­lect art­work. I like mem­o­ries. I like making them. I like re­al­iz­ing that they will stay with me for a long time. I like how they come in dif­fer­ent forms—cloudy, clear, bright, dark, jagged, smooth—and how they can trans­port me to a dif­fer­ent time and place, even to a per­son dif­fer­ent from the one I nd in the mir­ror ev­ery day. I like be­ing re­minded of them.

I like know­ing that while I may some­day lose my words, I will never lose sight of that one sunny Satur­day, the Christ­mases I’d spend with fam­ily, or even the day my el­e­men­tary school pa­per ad­viser an­nounced that she was ap­point­ing me ed­i­tor in chief. ike­wise, I’ll never forget about the day I rst cried about a crush, the day my shoes got thrown over a ve­randa by some bul­lies, or the day I got so up­set I stormed out of a class­room.

In this re­gard, per­haps there was no one bet­ter suited to enjoy the On his ay fea­ture on ace­book. hen it rst came out, I was e cited about get­ting an­other chance to see old sta­tus mes­sages, old pho­tos, and even old wall posts, mostly be­cause of how silly they would be, a bit like read­ing some­thing you wrote when you were a kid.

Then it turned into some­thing that would give me sec­ond­hand em­bar­rass­ment, by way of the “How on earth did you think this was funny?” or “How did you not think this was cheesy as hell?” posts. This would then spi­ral into the nal stage—a whirlpool of sen­ti­men­tal­ity that would have me seek­ing out any­thing from that pe­riod, much like an arche­ol­o­gist on an ac­tion-fu­eled quest, if by ‘ac­tion,’ I meant feel­ings, and if by ‘quest,’ I meant mul­ti­ple trips down mem­ory lane.

Face­book’s On This Day fea­ture works much like a scrap­book, e cept that there’s a page for ev­ery sin­gle day of the year. Re­mem­ber that trip you took with your friends three years ago? You’ll be able to see pho­tos from that trip. What about your grad­u­a­tion day? You’ll see the video from when you went up on­stage and even wall posts from friends and fam­ily con­grat­u­lat­ing you on your achieve­ment. Oh, and you’ll also be able to see the date when you added your crush on Face­book, which will save you time spent won­der­ing when you be­came friends.

Ac­cord­ing to TechCrunch, Face­book has also built in rules for the fea­ture’s al­go­rithm to en­sure that it wouldn’t bring up neg­a­tive feel­ings. If you’ve ever made a re­la­tion­ship Face­book of cial, only to break up later on, Face­book will re­mem­ber you delist­ing that per­son as your ro­man­tic part­ner and will not show you posts in­clud­ing that per­son in your News Feed, un­less you choose to do so. The On This Day fea­ture will also avoid dis­play­ing mem­o­ries of friends who might have passed away.

How can one fea­ture on one so­cial me­dia plat­form get such a re­ac­tion? The an­swer may lie in emo­tional mem­o­ries. In an ar­ti­cle on We­bMD, writer Mi­randa Hitti shared that when an event stirs a per­son’s emo­tions, the brain takes in as much de­tail about the event, making it eas­ier to re­call. This is prob­a­bly why we re­mem­ber de­feats and vic­to­ries in equal mea­sure— the strength of the emo­tion con­nected to the event is enough to leave an im­print in our minds.

Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and psy­cho­an­a­lyst Mary Lamia shared, in an ar­ti­cle on Psy­chol­ogy To­day, that it doesn’t really take much for us to bring back or re­call a mem­ory—a date re­mind­ing us about an an­niver­sary, a trin­ket once be­long­ing to some­one, or even a song that you used to sing along or dance to to­gether can be enough. Lamia shared that once a mem­ory is re­called, it can ac­ti­vate pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive emo­tions, with a per­son feel­ing neg­a­tive emo­tions with greater in­ten­sity.

Re­call­ing a bad break-up may bring back all the anger, the bit­ter­ness, and hurt, and might lead us to wal­low­ing for some­time, while a more pos­i­tive mem­ory, like a rst date, can be the lift that we need in our day.

Lamia added ob­jects can ac­ti­vate not just an emo­tion or a mem­ory but also the con­nec­tion that we had with the per­son who owned the ob­ject, which prob­a­bly e plains the mad rush of re­turns that bro­kenup cou­ples go through. It’s not just get­ting rid of a po­ten­tial trig­ger or re­minder, but it’s our way of telling our­selves that it’s time to make some room for new mem­o­ries.

When it comes to emo­tional mem­o­ries, Lamia noted that hav­ing a good mem­ory may not be as ad­van­ta­geous as it usu­ally is, as it may re­quire a per­son to e er­cise con­trol over de­tails or po­ten­tial trig­gers that can keep them from fo­cus­ing on the now. It will be up to us to de­ter­mine whether we can use the mem­ory as a gen­tle re­minder to be more cau­tious or as straight-up de­tour, telling us not to go down that road again, maybe try a new one in­stead.

While look­ing back can have its side ef­fects, re­search has shown that nostal­gia, now more com­mon thanks to Time­hop, Face­book’s On This Day, and #throw­back­thurs­day, does more good for the body. Psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor Con­stan­tine Sedikides, a known re­searcher in the eld of nostal­gia, noted in two pa­pers they pub­lished that while the feel­ing of nostal­gia is trig­gered by neg­a­tive moods and lone­li­ness, the e pe­ri­ence of it can cre­ate pos­i­tive ef­fects on the body.

Dr. Sedikides and his col­leagues found that nostal­gia can help peo­ple be­come more open-minded, which, if chan­neled in cre­ative be­hav­ior, such as writ­ing prose, can con­trib­ute to cre­ativ­ity. They also found that there is a re­la­tion­ship be­tween lone­li­ness and nostal­gia—while peo­ple who feel lonely may feel that they don’t have as much so­cial sup­port, their lone­li­ness can lead to them to re­call times when they felt sup­ported by their so­cial net­work, which could lead them to re­al­ize just how con­nected they are.

As for that warm feel­ing you get af­ter re­call­ing a good child­hood mem­ory? That might ac­tu­ally be nostal­gia af­fect­ing your body. Dr. Sedikides and his col­leagues found that nostal­gia trig­gered by mu­sic or by an event ac­tu­ally af­fected how peo­ple would per­ceive room tem­per­a­ture. The same set of stud­ies also found that peo­ple who re­called a nos­tal­gic event showed greater tol­er­ance to un­pleas­ant lev­els of cold­ness.

The power of nostal­gia seems to be in making us re­al­ize that while things have gone south be­fore, they can be good again. With­out this ref­er­ence point, we may re­main adrift. We may end up think­ing and be­liev­ing that life will only ever give us the bad. We may end up think­ing that life is point­less or mean­ing­less or only ever about the tem­po­rary. Nostal­gia re­minds us that we have em­bar­rassed our­selves be­fore, we have got­ten hurt be­fore, and we have grieved be­fore—the dif­fer­ence is now we’re strong enough to dust it off.

I still cringe, some­times, when I see old sta­tus mes­sages or pho­tos. Some­times, I ask my­self why I de­cided to stick with a long, shaggy hair­cut or why I thought drop­ping un­am­bigu­ous hints would keep my af­fec­tion quiet and hid­den. Some­times, those mem­o­ries make me laugh. Other times, those mem­o­ries feel like open­ing Pan­dora’s bo .

The one thing I al­ways ask my­self at the end of each day’s On This Day feed is this: Would I change it? Maybe. Most of th­ese mem­o­ries, though, I’d much rather keep. I may never live down some things, but I don’t know who I’d be with­out those mem­o­ries. Maybe I’d be some­one who’d never ap­pre­ci­ate look­ing back. If that’s the trade, I think I’m hap­pier on this side.

Maybe nostal­gia is a way to re­mind us to be kinder to our­selves, to seek the help of oth­ers, and to grow from our de­ci­sions. Maybe the gift of nostal­gia is not in making us want our­selves ten pounds, two loves, or three stu­dent clubs ago, but in tak­ing refuge in that space where un­der­stand­ing, com­pas­sion, and con­tent­ment meet.

“It turned into some­thing that would give me sec­ond­hand em­bar­rass­ment, by way of the ‘ How on earth did you think this was funny?’ or ‘ How did you not think this was cheesy as hell?’ posts.”

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