We live in an era of external memory. Everything we need to remember—phone numbers, addresses, facts, birthdays, the periodic table of the elements, the distance from your current location to the hidden* underground lairs of your enemies**—is available either online or in some other electronic format. My cellphone remembers more phone numbers than I ever will. I know people who don’t even know their own. Why should they? They never need to dial it, and if they ever need it, it’s right there, under the phone’s information. Or they can call a friend. The information is out there.
And so much more. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr—all this stuff digitizes what was once stored only in our heads: our daily lives. Every waking moment, for some of us. Every meal.*** Every event. All stored and broadcast.
At least, those memories we deem fit for public consumption.
The only ones we store solely inside our heads now are the shameful ones. The dangerous ones. The ones that hurt. That’s the stuff we don’t want other people to see. So we hold them close, away from the ubiquitous media presence that catalogues nearly every other event. The most we might do is write them in a journal. Otherwise…locked away.
Your characters are are the same. They’ve got things they’ll never tell anyone. Secrets they swallow back every time. Those things might never come up within the story, but they damn sure come up within the character. The secrets we keep are part of what makes us who we are. For better or worse.
So, today’s Monday Challenge: write a memory. One that never gets let out. What does one of your characters never speak of, at least not where anyone can hear? What are they hiding?
And will it ever be discovered?
*Not that hidden, apparently.
**Your enemies don’t have lairs? Bizarre.
***You know who you are, food over-sharers.