We're living in unprecedented times: a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic has the world in its grip; a social revolution is upon us; and we’re being forced to reckon with Kanye West’s presidential campaign (seriously, though. Is Kanye OK?).
Though we can count on historians and scientists (and Twitter tea accounts) to meticulously document global events for future reference, what of the events in our own lives? How will we really remember this turbulent period in our lifetimes?
Science suggests that our memory prioritises emotional content; negative more so than positive. For many, there may be no more emotional time than the one happening right now; some people are feeling isolated, some are worried about their health and finances, and others are just trying to tolerate the people they're quarantining with.
It's taking a significant mental toll as, according to experts, the more emotional a moment is, the more deeply it becomes ingrained in our memories. When these moments occur in quick succession (as has been the case this year), we're likely to merge them together, and end up with a generic sense of what the time was like.
This could mean that, for many of us, 2020 may only be remembered as a time of trauma and uncertainty (with the added agony of butchered at-home haircuts and dodgy dye jobs). Needless to say, this just isn't a very healthy way to recall moments past.
Happily, however, side-stepping the psychological fallout from these tumultuous times could be as simple as preserving positive memories (this is not to be confused with the old and endlessly frustrating advice, ‘just focus on the bright side’), namely by making a time capsule.
Just spending time putting together a time capsule of pleasant memories is proven to be incredibly therapeutic. Engaging in cognitive recall solidifies those positive moments in our minds, which can break up negative experiences and lessen their psychological impact. And in the long-term, your time capsule can educate future generations or, at the very least, refresh your memory (lest you forget your killer work-from-home fits i.e. pjs).
Below is a little guide for leaving your message for the future.
Pick your capsule
Building a DIY time capsule doesn’t mean making another Voyager Golden Record, or going broke necessarily. Nor does it mean digging holes across town. Your capsule can take any form you prefer, whether it's on a USB-stick, in a shoebox or in a military-grade stainless steel container.
Set a time
Five years? Twenty? A lifetime? The further into the future you wish to send a message, the more care you’ll need to put into deciding what to put inside to ensure it endures.
What to put in
Think of the most positive moments you’ve experienced recently and brainstorm what you could pop into your capsule that'll prompt those memories. It could be a keepsake from someone you enjoyed quarantining with; a photo from your first post-lockdown outing; a lock of hair from a botched haircut (just kidding). A nice addition would be a journal or letter to your future self. One thing to remember: make sure you keep the capsule contents low- or no-tech to make sure they stand the test of time.
Stash it away
You could go the traditional route of burying the capsule, in which case you should make sure to note down the location - maybe even the geo coordinates. You could also just pop it in the back of a closet or on a really high shelf, away from prying eyes. Just don't forget where you put it!
Photos: Instagram and Unsplash