Yes, I’m being flippant about the Memorex reference (from an old commercial) but this headline truly worries me: Study suggests memories can be lies.
It’s not that I doubt the study or its importance. We do need to know more about how memories work.
However, I’m worried about the social cue that headline conveys.
I’m concerned that it’s compounding the “you can’t trust your memories” messages I’ve been seeing in recent years.
Psychologically speaking, internalizing that message can be tremendously destabilizing.
I hope people don’t take that study as the final word in this field. After all, doctors and scientists have gone back & forth about memories – including young children’s memories – for decades. This is just the latest breakthrough, and its relevance will be proved over time. For now, it’s startling, so it’s in national (USA) news.
And lf course, the Mandela Effect is a sub-sub-category of memories, in general. They’re anomalies we don’t fully understand… yet.
I’m posting this because it may be important to compartmentalize memories by categories. I don’t mean just two bins: the Mandela Effect, and Everything Else.
Instead, I’m talking about the myriad kinds of memories we have – how strong they are, when and where we acquired them, how they connect to one another, and so on.
Too often, I read comments and emails from people with one or two Mandela Effect memories, and they regularly close with a line like, “Am I losing my mind?” or “Am I going crazy?”
It worries me that they may be serious about those concerns: They’re worried that the memories they feel certain of… may be false, and – to them – that becomes a systemic concern. They awfulize. They wonder, “Okay, what else am I wrong about…?”
That’s not something anyone can evaluate, online. Not even me. (Yes, I’m being flippant; obviously, I’m not a mental health expert. But, I am absolutely serious about my concerns when I read news headlines that could tilt the scales dangerously, among people who are already feeling troubled.)
So, my post today is to assure you that this latest study doesn’t mean all – or any – of your memories are dangerously flawed.
I’ve already talked about the importance of fact-checking memories that don’t quite fit the world we’re in. That’s in my video, shown below.
But, having ruled out confusion, etc., I think it’s important not to internalize news stories that could be destabilizing.
Sure, if you need to talk with a professional – a doctor, for example – please do that for your peace of mind.
Meanwhile, I still say “trust your memories.” Whether their factual content is accurate or not, they came from somewhere. And that “somewhere” may have been mistaken.
If so, that’s human error. It doesn’t mean you’re losing your mind… it just means you heard whatever-it-was from someone who misspoke, or was working with flawed information (possibly through no fault of their own).
Or, yes, it could be the Mandela Effect.