I don’t remember things anymore

I don’t remember all of the state capitals. I don’t remember advanced geometry. I don’t remember the purpose or need for the mole in chemistry class, or my old locker combination (despite a handful of frantic dreams reminding me of its importance.) I don’t remember on which days moving holidays fall.

Let’s take it even more basic. I don’t remember what I have scheduled for next week. I don’t remember what I wrote about two weeks ago. I don’t remember what books are on my bookshelf, or what CDs are on my iPod, or what season of The Office I’m currently three episodes behind on. The only one of my friends whose birthday I can remember is Jim’s.

Because it’s on Christmas.

But that’s okay. I don’t need to.

I have technology.

I have a calendar that not only chronicles important dates and appointments, but pipes up and reminds me at the most opportune time. I have a phone that stores numbers, organized and searchable by name. I have the wide sweeping grandeur of the Internet to remind me of even the most trivial of things.

Listen – I remember what’s important to recall on a moment’s notice. I remember the birthdays of my immediate family, my anniversary, my social security number and Kerrie’s phone number. It’s not like I need some kind of device hard-wired to my brain to bring up things that are of strict importance.

But, as a typical scatterbrain, I find that more of my time is lent to concepts and ideas, not stats and figures. I don’t need to remember the years in which Magic Johnson won the MVP award – I can Google it. I don’t need to remember which issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Stephen King appeared in. I’ve got an online database. I don’t even need to remember all seven of Snow White’s dwarves. It’s on the Internet.

Though the concept of a global search engine has been with us for years – for what seems like decades, actually – it’s finally starting to hit home in the mainstream. It’s no longer novelty – it’s now commonplace. It’s Oprahfied. It’s Matlock-tested. It’s as cliché as those last two sentences.

The thing is, there’s really no change. It’s not like we weren’t creating huge depositories for complicated and dated information before. It’s just that, now, instead of relying on an index, or on a library, or on the available resources of our bookshelf, we’re now circumventing availability and cutting straight to need.

Leaving my mind free to squirrel away philosophies and applied knowledge.

That is, if my brain would ever bother letting go of its complete list of WWF Intercontinental Champions through 2001.

[Prompt: “Why do we memorize things anymore when we can just Google it? Case in point: I could only think of six of the seven dwarfs this morning, so what did I do? Googled it.” – Angie Johnson, who no longer has a blog, but has cute babies.]

This was lovingly handwritten on October 31st, 2009