Storing Memories: The Ups and Downs

Storing food in fridges is generally a safe way to keep fruits and vegetables fresh and avoid them getting rotten. This is not the case with potatoes. Storing potatoes in fridges is a risk to the health. This is because potatoes have starch and in a fridge, the starch converts to sugars. When we fry potatoes in vegetable oil these sugars react with the amino acids present in potatoes and produce a toxic chemical that is awful to the healthiness of consumers.

The questions that crossed my mind are:

Do some memories become harmful if stored in our minds? Is it safe to keep all types of memories stored in our brains for prolonged times? What harm they may produce?

Memory storage is the process by which the brain stores events so that they may retrieve them later. The brain keeps memories of low impact at lower levels than the more important events and information. Low-level storing leads to the quick erase of such events and information.

Memories depend on the degree of connectedness between individual brain cells —the higher the connectedness the longer memories shall stay.

Memories and Behavior

Research revealed that people could easily create false memories of their past and a new study shows that such memories can have long-term effects on our behavior.

The stored memories are amenable to conversion as starch is.

Research shows that memories are fragile and subject to false reminders. Participants in the research believed faked information that they suffered from eating certain salads. These participants did not like salads as they did before because of fear they would get sick. We can store false memories that may guide behaviors.

Transformation of Memories

Researchers found that memories transform every single time we access them. Fine details may change, and parts of memory may fortify, wane, or even lost altogether.

People may lose important details about events resulting in “memory gaps”. The brain tends to fill these memory gaps by formulating details that sound to make sense. In other instances, old memories can interfere with the formation of new ones. This “mixing of memories” makes it difficult to recall what actually happened.

The Effect of the Internet on Memory

The internet is a place of paradoxes. We fix our eyes on the screen and move our eyes on changing scenes and variable ideas only to lose our attention. Attention on the screen scatters our attention and robs it of focus. This is a major paradox of the internet. Advertisers and posts are witnesses of this short-lived attention. An ad, for example, has an average of seven seconds to grab the attention of the viewer, and then attention sways to something else.

What these have to do with memory? It is the rewiring of our mental circuits that is the concern. This has to do with the rapidity by which we store and remove memories. We do not allow enough time for events and scenes to store long enough in our brains and their chances to store as long memories reduce greatly. We weaken our brains from memorizing long-held memories that help us reconnect the dots to generate creative ideas. Our memories are becoming volatile. Brain scientists realize that long-term memory is actually the seat of understanding. We are able to transfer only a small portion of the information to long-term memory, and what we do transfer is a jumble of drops from different faucets, not a continuous, coherent stream from one source. This results in our increasing dependence on the old memories that we have in the brains. Creativity dries up accordingly.

On another side, that we may store images, videos, and photos permanently on computers or on the cloud makes it harder to forget emotional events. This is straining to the mental processes. If we forget, the retrieval of stored images can be a strong reminder of who we were and not of who we are now. If we manage, delete these images from our memories we may not delete them from all devices that other people stored for different reasons. One interesting example is the young woman who was refused a teacher’s certificate because she had posted a photo of her online that showed her with a drink in hand and that photo was discovered by her university.

Like potatoes that become harmful if we store them in fridges, so are some memories that we expose to the world. Other people are there to cook them in oil and produce harm to us and may destroy our opportunities.

The internet-memory relationship is more complex than we think. Beware of storing memories that resemble the faulty storage of potatoes in a fridge.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. I am so impressed that anybody from a picture can see what is in a glass. Frankly, I don’t think they can. So I am sorry, Ali, if such a nonsense proof should cost anybody a job offer. But I understand that the culture may judge more harshly.

    For genetic reasons, I shouldn’t drink alcohol. And while I may break that rule once in a blue moon, generally i abstain. Some people seem find that problematic, so not to make them feel self-conscious, I will usually drink my sparkling cider from a champagne class or apple juice from a wine glass. Just because the content is boring doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate good stemware.

    This is a very informative post reminding us that memory is less than ideal, regardless whether it is in biological or RAM form. I am ambivalent when it comes to the impact of the Internet. As negative as the disturbance of memory may be, there is an upside in how much more information many people are aware of much earlier in life than in our generation. And while they may not remember what the facts were, they know that this is a phenomenon and they can look up the details. Isn’t that a better position to be in than not know something could be an issue at all?

  2. I received a message from a reader who read this post. He told me how an Islamic Bank withdrew his offer to be the manager of an Islamic Bank.

    In his message he told me that he quitted to be an occasional social drinker he years ago. He never had an alcohol drink since then.

    In a social event from years ago a friend of mine uploaded by one of the attendees on his Instagram page. The candidate who lost the job searched my profile and the profiles of my friends. He found the photo with me holding a glass of alcohol.

    The losing candidate sent the photo to the attention of the management of the Islamic Bank who offered me the job. You know Moslems are not supposed to consume alcohol. This prompted the withdrawal of offer.

    I say the problem is that if we forget the internet does not.