Yesterday I was reading this list of things that babies born in 2011 will never do, and was struck by this one:
Forgotten friends: Remember when an old friend would bring up someone you went to high school with, and you’d say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about them!” The next generation will automatically be in touch with everyone they’ve ever known even slightly via Facebook.
That’s an idea that’s been kicking around in my head for a while. The web makes it increasingly difficult to close a chapter in your life. Whether that’s coming out of the closet or just leaving middle school, the increasingly detailed memory of the web means that artifacts and relationships of your previous chapter will follow you, possibly forever.
Today, of course, you can manage your privacy settings in Facebook and LinkedIn, and block people on Twitter, but the trend is toward more openness and findability for individuals online.
There’s value in forgetting and moving on, isn’t there? Whether it’s just a high school bully or an overly-clingy college roommate, there are always people we want to leave behind. And I think there’s a certain cognitive burden in being that findable, or even being able to find just about anybody from your whole life. The web’s long term memory is going to make that harder and harder to do.
Do you think we’re better off remembering everything, or selectively forgetting?