“In our individualistic society we like to delude ourselves that we are autonomous, freestanding entities, including our minds and memories, but it just ain’t so.”
Andrew at tankawanka ponders an overlooked aspect of social media in this techno age: how we in our scattered bodies strive to remain connected, struggle to knit our memories and experience into a coherent and meaningful whole in a world where exigencies of existence, access to transportation to distant places, and the seductive ease of electronic communication conspire to keep us physically separated from friends and family.
While other people are being snatched away from us, we are being filched away surreptitiously from ourselves. –Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Letter CIV
When Seneca wrote these words, he was trying to convince us that it was pointless to grieve for the loss of loved ones, because we are ourselves are being changed and worn down by the passage of time, the departed have merely suffered time’s final blow.
I think he has missed a deeper point, however, that the death of someone we loved, with whom we spent a great deal of time and shared many experiences represents a significant change and loss for us because of the oft overlooked collective and social nature of memory. When a friend or family member dies, a huge section of our memory is erased; we still have our memories of them, but we have lost their memories of us.
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