Do you have good memory?

To give more life to (and butcher the original text of) a tangential footnote I made in a post on an otherwise completely unrelated topic…

Well, do you? How good or bad is it?

One other thing I’m kind of curious about is WHAT things people (with good memories or not) tend to remember very well (and also what they tend to forget).
I personally remember people, experiences and interactions very well, but consistantly forget “important” things like doctor’s appointments or paying my bills on time.
I know there are also people out there who can remember every single thing they learned in school, but can’t remember a person’s name after being introduced 5 times.

Me, I have a freakishly good super memory when it comes to people/experiences.

For example, I’ll often remember exactly what a certain person and I did the first time we met, what they were wearing that night, or direct quotes they said in regards to the conversation we were having about whatever on the same night. I’ll mention these things, and they’ll either have no idea what I’m talking about and be amazed that I can remember such a thing, or (rarer) remember it differently until I provide more details, other things that happened to compare it to, or whatever, and they start to piece everything together and finally say, “oh yeah! You’re right!”

This applies to my childhood memories as well. I’ll sometimes sit there and tell my parents stupid things I remember from when I was 5 years old. Like we went to this park over the summer this one time, and it was raining, and I wore this outfit, and I found a butterfly that was this color and this pattern. They’ll also be amazed that I remember it, and confirm all the details. Or maybe they’ll argue a small detail, but I always know they’re wrong and I was right the first time. (;))

Basically, I just remember almost everything I experience, and I remember it vividly. Not only that, but the majority of the time when I relate little memories to people, I get some version of “how in the hell do you remember that?”
If you can relate, you have what I have just dubbed “a freakishly good super memory.” Welcome to the club.

(I don’t mean to to imply in any way that I never forget things, because I do quite often. It’s just that it seems like 90% of the time the situation comes up, I’ll be the one to remember something and the other person is the one that doesn’t remember it)
Anyway, I don’t want this post to be all about me and have the thread sink to the bottom with just this OP, so let’s discuss.

I remember directions with photographic detail.

There are different types of memory out there, short term, long term, working, episodic, semantic, procedural etc…etc… and the list goes on.

I have a terrible short term memory but a very keen long term memory. Ask me where my keys are when I arrive at home and I probably can’t tell you, ask me where I put my keys yesterday when I got home and I’ll say “on the couch next to the end table…”

I was going to post something. What was it? Dang- I had it for a second there and lost it. Nevermind. I gotta lie down.

I’m absolutely hopeless with names. Like a goldfish I tell you. I can be introduced to a person, and while still talking to that same person, forget the name.

I seem to remember weird trivia stuff and experiences pretty well. Some experiences. There have been instances where my ex would tell me a story about us and I just look at her with a blank face. “WTF? YOU WERE THERE!!!” oh well.

I’m sorry, could you repeat the question?

I have an excellent short-term memory. This means I can literally skim a book the night before a major exam and pass it with flying colors

(I did this with Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding in a philosophy class once. Don’t remember a damn thing about it now, but I sure did ace it on exam day!)

I would have been a whiz at biology just because of my ability to memorize so much crap. I can memorize speeches and plays word-for-word very easily. At some point this does carry over into long-term memory, because I can still, to this day, recite poetry I wrote in fourth grade.

(From memory:
On Thanksgiving Day, while walking down the street
A turkey’s what I happened to meet
‘‘Hello,’’ it said, without hesitation
‘‘I’m from the National Turkey Organization
We represent our fine feathered friends
Who feel they aren’t paid fair dividends…’’

I wrote that in 1993 when I was 10, and I remember it word for word, awkward phrasing and all. I don’t remember all of my poems, just the ones I was particularly proud of.

This ability to memorize words is probably one reason I’m a good academic.

I also don’t need to use a bookmark when I’m reading. If I spend 3 to 4 seconds staring fixedly at the page number, I won’t forget it. If I am searching for a quotation in a text, I can remember the exact position on the page it was when I read it.

I have selective long-term memory. I tend to vividly remember the most horrible things that ever happened to me. Most of my memories, especially periods of life that weren’t very pleasant, are dim and fractured. I also get memories mixed up very easily – thinking X and Y happened in the same day even though they maybe happened months or years apart. As far as I can tell, that’s very normal.

I also have a great number of memories that I doubt actually happened. For example, I remember in high school I had a really good Jehovah’s witness friend. We were good buddies and wrote notes back and forth a lot in class. One day he wrote me a 12 page letter detailing how madly in love with me he was and begging me to convert. To this day, I’m only like 75% sure that actually happened.

So overall, I’d say yay for academic memory. Episodic memory? Pretty lousy.

I have a pretty wide, but shallow fund of knowledge. Which might suggest I am able to retain quite a bit. In reality, I only know a very few superficialities about a tremendously wide array of subjects.

As far as specific memory is concerned, I’m a mess. I only remember maybe 4 phone numbers, sometimes even needing to think to get my own right. And I am terrible with names - probably because I long developed the habit of not really trying because I decided I was bad at remembering them. And it is not at all unusual for someone to greet me by name, and I have no recollection of ever having seen or met them before.

I have very few clear recollections of anything - say - more than a month or so back. I mean, not like rolling the film clips. I’m 47, and I really can’t remember what it was like to be in high school or younger. It is hard to figure out what are actual memories, as opposed to artifacts from photos, family movies, previous retellings, etc.

But I have a really good almost subconscious memory. If I go somewhere once I’m pretty good at finding it again, even tho I don’t know the address or street names. And I rarely miss due dates, appointments, or the like. They seem to bubble up just before they are needed.

I have no real problem on traditional clinical memory tests. I think I basically tend to exist pretty superficially, tho, with the result that I have a recollection of many things but retain no mastery of their substance. Which pretty much sucks in many respects.

I can recall and relate historical information fairly readily. Folk keep asking me when I do talks out on the street beside the various sites, spouting on about this and that bit of old gossip and scandal from two centuries ago – “How do you remember all that stuff?” I just do. It interests me, and it sticks. I can also recall keywords I’ve come across before when writing historical research reports, and so can go search for previous reports, and tie in the linked information. A mentioned keyword will spark off something in my brain, and I just wait a wee while for the right mental filing cabinet to open.

When I worked for a government department more than 15 years ago, I was able to recall dozens of phone numbers of contractors. The numbers just came to be applied and fixed to the names.

But … I rely heavily on my Outlook calendar these days to remind me when to call people, attend meetings, and even (just lately) when to pay the phone and land rates bills. At social occasions, I usually forget how people’s names and faces tie together beyond my immediate close circle of friends (I’m lucky, those who know me well and for a long time forgive me a lot). And I also forget to buy things at the supermarket which I had set out to buy in the first place. Lists are my friends.

I’m the opposite of the OP. I forget experiences and people extremely easily. I remember facts, things I’ve read, things I learned in school, often in exhaustive detail, but can’t remember classmates, teachers, the schools themselves, etc.

I’d trade it in a heartbeat. I forget my life and remember trivia.

Yeah - I agree with this 100%.

I remember one particular incident a few years ago. Some friends have a big cookout every year. When we go, we see several people we often see only at that event. One time a guy said someting really nice to me - he said that the previous year he and I had had what he considered to have been one of the most interesting conversations he had ever had. Which is no small praise between reasonably educated people in their 30s, and to a person who values intelligent discourse. Of course the kicker is I had no recollection of having met this guy before…

I spent the greater part of my 20s and 30s drunk and stoned, which undoubtedly explains a lot.

I’ve never been drunk or stoned, so it might not explain anything.

Me too. It’s embarrassing as hell. I dread situations where I’m going to be introduce to people, because I know I’ll forget to put in the extra effort required to remember their names.

I can remember outrageous amounts of trivia. I’m also good at song lyrics. What I’m really bad at is remembering things about my job. I can work day in and day out for a month on some problem, to the point where I’m practically breathing it. Then I get done, and a week later I couldn’t tell you what the whole thing was about. Very irritating.

I also don’t have my wife’s memory for details concerning the children. The woman can’t remember the lyrics to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” but she can remember what row one of our children was standing in while singing it at a school function 15 years ago. I assume most women have this freakish ability.

This thread is kind of eerie with the similarities I see between us and Olives, too.

Has anyone with a bad memory for experiences ever tried to change things? I wonder if there are any techniques that can help.

Ohh, I’m glad I started this thread! I think it’s fascinating that we all basically have the same brain, but they all operate so incredibly differently.

I think a lot of people (but never me, of course ;)) invent or severely alter memories. I’ve noticed it a bit, at least.

Sometimes it’ll be something simple like someone saying, “hey, remember how funny it was when “x” happened, and you said “y”?” and I’ll know for damn sure that I wasn’t even there to say “y”, because (aside from the fact that I don’t remember any of it), they said “x” happened when they were with Bob at Bob’s house, and I didn’t even meet the person until a year after they got into a big fight with Bob and completely stopped talking to him. In that case, I’m sure “x” really happened and someone said “y”, but I know it wasn’t me. But in their mind, I was definitely there and I definitely said “Y” and even when I point out that I didn’t know them then, they’ll still insist it was me for a little while until they finally accept that it really couldn’t have been me. And even then they won’t remember who it really was.

Other times people will just include me as a passive participant in something that happened, and imagine some minor details about my presence. As an example, someone will be talking about prom night, asking me if I remember this or that from that night. Except I’ve never been to a prom in my life. I’ll tell them this, and they’ll say something like, “No, you were there! You went with Timmy, and the two of you even rented a limo with me and Johnny!” but I’ll remember that at the time she made such a big deal about how her and Johnny got their own limo, and that she was glad they didn’t have to share with anyone else, and how they made out the whole ride there or whatever. Something to make it clear to me that they weren’t just mistaking me for someone else, but they flat-out placed me somewhere I definitely wasn’t. Those ones are a little weirder.

But the weirdest one is when someone remembers details about something that they weren’t there for.

Real life example:
A few years ago, I was staying at my friend’s beach house. His 14 year old cousin was there, and kept asking me to let him drive my car. One morning I gave in and let him drive me (just me!) to a dunkin donuts a few blocks away.
Recently I was talking to a different friend of mine, and told him about it for some reason or another. And he said, “yeah, I remember that! I was there, remember! It was late at night, and we were drunk, so we made him drive us there.”
But he wasn’t there! In fact, I’m pretty sure he didn’t even stay at the house at the same time I did at all that summer. And of course all the other details he remembered were wrong as well, because he made them up. He has a memory of something that never happened.

So weird!

Straight after my mother had a stroke in 1986, she would talk about her life in California in the late 1940s-early 1950s, and I’d hear stuff like, “Remember when we saw such-and-such?” Only, I wasn’t born back then. Wasn’t even a twinkle in the ol’ proverbial. The mind, and memory, is a strange thing. My mother felt very certain that I’d lived around 15 years before I was born – yet she knew for a fact that wasn’t the case.

There are buildings, no longer on the landscape through demolition, that I must have walked past or seen hundreds of times from when I was growing up here where I live – yet, in my memory, they’re blank spots. I can’t remember them as personal experience. Even photographs I’ve seen of them since mean next to nothing to me. Yet, they were there, and occupied the same part of the time continuum as I did then.

I suck at remembering names. I’m good at remembering numbers (but I suck at math. Go figure.) I can remember details of stories and movies from years ago. I’ve got trivia galore stuck in my brain. I remember plenty of things from childhood that others have forgotten. Actually my memory for most things is good. It’s the names thing, and anything I wasn’t really paying attention for that do me in (like directions. Yuck.)