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Generational amnesia: The memory loss that harms the planet

BBC Future – “As each new generation inherits the world, vital knowledge is forgotten. In the latest in our Wise Words series, Richard Fisher explores the language that has emerged to describe that phenomenon. Can a generation be forgetful? It’s certainly true that older generations can fail to remember what it was to be young. With age, there comes a predictable derision of youth that seems to afflict almost every demographic cohort over the age of 35 years or so…One reason, the researchers say, is that people tend to forget that they themselves have changed over time, and so assume that the maturity, attitudes and behaviours of the young are also fixed. However, that’s not the only kind of forgetfulness that happens as the generations pass. There’s another type that is less obvious, called “generational amnesia”, which has profound effects on the way that we see the world. And unfortunately, all of us come to suffer from it no matter how young or old we are.

Every generation is handed a world that has been shaped by their predecessors – and then seemingly forgets that fact. Consider how we think about technology. The current generation’s idea of technology means smartphones, cryptocurrencies or the internet, but it wasn’t always so: technology was once centred on pneumatics or steam, rather than silicon. One computer scientist once quipped that technology should be defined as “anything that was invented after you were born”.

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