It’s six a.m. and my smartphone is dotted with notifications. Like eager tour guides lined up in an airport arrivals hall, social media would like to usher me down memory lane. Facebook reminds me of “memories,” Google photos invites me to “rediscover this day,” and Timehop has a bundle of snapshots collated from Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook, and my camera roll from this day one year ago or more. On Thursdays, friends post photographic gems from years past with the #TBT hashtag: Remember when we had mullets? Remember when we were in college? Remember when our high school seniors were just babies?
These photographic flashbacks often bring moment of sweet reminiscence. My memory isn’t great, even at the best of times, and the flurry of early motherhood has increased the rate at which details leak from my brain. I am one of more than 15 million Timehop users who appreciate the ability to reminisce about moments I’ve forgotten and cute things my kids said. With the worlds of social media and parenthood both focused on the present, there is a sweetness in recalling things which have long since dropped off our newsfeed but which we’d love to have stored to our long-term memory.
Last summer, the Pixar blockbuster Inside Out offered us a guided tour to the inside workings of a young girl’s mind. Gesturing to the rack of iridescent memory-beads, the emotion-character Joy explains, “These are Riley’s memories, and they’re mostly happy you’ll notice... not to brag.” Indeed. Our social media memories are mostly happy, and we try not to brag.
However, this past season, my Timehop flashbacks revisited a significantly harder season. I had far fewer ...1
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