Becca Versus the Web

I was warned. “It’ll go by so fast,” someone told me. “You’ll blink and it will all be over.”

And it was. As hard as I tried not to blink, as much as I tried to remember, my wedding day was over before I could really appreciate that it had even begun. Hours upon amazing hours, gone. Where did they all go?

I spent most of the honeymoon trying to retrieve them. I ran over the details with my husband. “I didn’t know who had your ring and I was being led to the ceremony hall and Auntie – no, your cousin, said . . .” I thought if I sifted through what memories I had, tried them on a time or two, I could crystallize the feelings, sights and smells of those hours. But the more I remembered, the more I misremembered. My husband would gently pipe up, “I don’t think it happened quite like that.” Maybe he was the one misremembering, but chances were good we were both wrong. Research has shown that calling to mind a memory fundamentally changes that memory and, by a process known as reconsolidation, the more you recall a moment in your past, the more your recollection may be warped or degraded. So you see, I should have known better.

While I was roving the West with my husband, pictures and video clips from our wedding began flooding the Internet. We returned from our honeymoon to find every smile, smirk, and stumble immortalized online with perfect accuracy, for everyone to see. Facebook. Picasa. YouTube. We scrolled through them and I wondered, Did I do that? Was that person there? Did it really happen like this?

The answer is yes. The smiles and colors and celebrations must have been exactly like that. At least my memories do match the photos in depicting a day full of happiness and love. But I can’t help feeling a tweak of sadness now too. For all the benefits of my versatile human brain and its skeins of wily neurons, the World Wide Web recollects my wedding day better than I could ever remember myself.

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