Memory is Tricky

Memory is a tricky thing.  A lot of the time it is difficult to be sure if what you are remembering is the memory from the actual event or if it is an altered memory caused by constant redrawing of said memory.  I have had an experience in my life where this was highlighted extremely.  I have a memory of when I was a young kid of laying on my bed reading (I had just had my guard rails removed).  I remember my parents coming in to ask me if I was ready for lunch to which I replied that I was.  I then remember finishing the chapter I was on and heading downstairs to be surprised by my first pet dog!  He was a corgi named Zuke.  I remember my parents telling me that they got him from a shelter and more about his back story.  I then remember running to the basement to grab a blanket for him to make him his own little bed in the living room.  When I turned for the stairs I tripped and toppled all the way down the steps.  I remember nearly missing one of my toy trucks at the bottom of the stairs.  After all was said and done I remember getting up without a scratch and getting a blanket for my new best friend.

Here is the tricky part though, that memory is actually two smashed together.  My parents were recording the surprise of my first pet and I have re-watched the video and I never fell down the stairs (that day).  I had actually went to my room to grab Zuke a blanket and then ended up playing with him in the living room without falling down the stairs at all that day.  The even that I mixed in was another recorded event that my parents have on tape.  This even was my 8th birthday party.  I was super excited to have all my friends over to my house and had ran for the stairs to grab one of my toys to show some of my friends and that is when I had tripped.  I remember correctly now because after watching both videos I can hear my mother yell when I start tumbling down the stairs.

This merging of two memories is a good example of how we can create false positives and have incorrect memories that we could have sworn were real.  Not everyone has the opportunity to correct certain false memories through the usage of video tape.  Even though this is a minor memory to have mixed up I now have it straightened out in my mind through clear video evidence that I merged two memories in my mind.

6 thoughts on “Memory is Tricky

  1. Carly Elizabeth Shank

    I found your post very interesting. I too have experienced mixing up memories and having them merge together. Things from my childhood bleed into one another and by talking to my parents, or watching home videos I can see that certain things did not happen at the times I expected. For example, on my first day of kindergarden I remember feeling very scared and nervous as I walked onto the bus. But what my mom recorded was me happy as ever, skipping and smiling whilst climbing the steps of the school bus. If it weren’t for home videos or the memory of my parents, I’m sure I would believe a lot more false memories than I do right now.

  2. Daniel E Fisher

    I find it very interesting how your two memories were merged the way that they did. The fact that your mind combined different events is very strange to me. I can see maybe the action of traveling on the steps being the event that was similar between the two and the point where the stories combine. When hearing both stories they both include and exciting event and rushing up or down the stairs which may also contribute to the false memory. It makes me wonder if that similar events are more likely to merge and create false memories. It would also be interesting to see all of the false memories that have been created by the mind in the past just to see different things that may have been in memory that did not really happen. False memories are interesting topic and the forming of them seems interesting as well.

  3. Michael Sebastian Coleman

    This is very interesting due to that no one told you about this. You said the falling down the stairs was on a completely separate tape, which means you combined them at some point after watching them, years apart. I would be curious to know if you had a marathon of watching home movies after these were taped and you happened to watch these two together, or whether you subconsciously linked them together due to them being both on video tapes.

  4. acj5097

    I find your story to be very fascinating. It really makes me think how many stories from my past that I am misremembering. It’s great that you got the chance to confirm this memory with video evidence. I am a senior at Penn State, and I find myself in situations where my friends and I misremember stories from freshman year. I was talking to my roommate the other day, and he was yelling at me because he thought I was the reason he got himself into a situation freshman year. My other roommate, who was also there for the original story, chimed in and told him that I wasn’t even there when this event happened. After talking about it more, we realized that my roommate merged a story from sophomore year with the story from freshman year. We all got a very good laugh out of that. It’s funny how often our brain puts in false positives to fill gaps in our memory.

  5. Kelsey Eagan

    I feel like a lot of my childhood memories didn’t actually happen the way I remember them. There have been at least three or four instances where I discussed a story from my childhood with my mom, and she had no recollection of it happening, or she claimed the way I told it was not the way it happened. I had always thought that I was so sure of my memories and she had just forgotten about them, but now I wonder how many of my memories are actually accurate.

  6. Christian Micaiah Duncan

    I enjoyed reading your post because this is something that we have all experienced. We recall something from our childhood and swear that we know every minute detail when in reality our account isn’t nearly as credible as we’d like to believe. Although it may be difficult to accept, we probably do it often. It is truly confusing yet amazing how our memories can in a way play tricks on us. We sort of create a false reality in our minds when relying completely on our own account. Its good that you had actual video footage in order to solidify your memories. Overall I enjoyed your post, for it clearly described your topic and was interesting throughout.

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