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Question: In what ways can human remembering in recent years be said to be increasingly individualistic and why does this matter?

17 Mar 2024,9:52 AM


Media, culture and memory


Assignment 1: Essay


This is a formally assessed essay of 2,500 words (including references). It must be an original piece of writing drawing on a range of properly referenced scholarly and other relevant sources that directly answers the question. It must have a clear introduction that sets out the aims and parameters of the essay, and also a clear conclusion that summarises the arguments/issues presented.


Answer ONLY ONE question from the list below:


1. In what ways can human remembering in recent years be said to be increasingly individualistic and why does this matter?

2. How do algorithms and artificial intelligence transform what might become of the past?

3. How to understand the relationship between gender, nationalism and memory?

4. Does the internet ever ‘forget’?

5. ‘one should strive for remembrance where possible, but accept that there are times and places where more forgetting – by which, again, I mean silence in the public spaces and contexts of the State and of civil society – is the only safe choice to make’ (David Rieff, 2019, 67).



6. What are the prospects and pitfalls for a genuinely interdisciplinary study of contemporary mediated or mediatized memory and should this be an ambition for media and/or cultural studies?

7. In what ways and to what effects can memory today be said to be ‘radicalised’?





In recent years, human remembering has exhibited a discernible shift towards individualism, marked by various factors shaping memory processes. This essay critically examines the ways in which human remembering has become increasingly individualistic and explores the implications of this trend. By drawing on scholarly literature and relevant sources, this essay aims to elucidate the underlying causes of this phenomenon and assess its significance.

Individualistic Memory Formation

One significant aspect contributing to individualistic remembering is the proliferation of digital technology. The advent of social media platforms, digital archives, and personal devices has transformed the way individuals store and access information. Unlike traditional modes of memory preservation reliant on collective repositories like libraries or family albums, digital memory allows for personalized curation and retrieval. Individuals now have unprecedented control over the content they choose to remember, shaping their memory narratives according to personal preferences and biases (van Dijck, 2016).

Moreover, the rise of personalized algorithms further reinforces individualistic memory formation. Online platforms utilize algorithms to tailor content based on users' past interactions and preferences. As a result, individuals are exposed to information that aligns with their existing beliefs and interests, creating echo chambers that reinforce selective memory processes (Pariser, 2011). This phenomenon, known as algorithmic filtering, exacerbates the fragmentation of collective memory by prioritizing individualized experiences over shared narratives.

Additionally, the democratization of knowledge through the internet has empowered individuals to challenge authoritative sources and construct alternative memory narratives. With access to vast repositories of information, individuals can reinterpret historical events or cultural phenomena through diverse perspectives, often diverging from mainstream accounts (Hoskins, 2009). This trend towards individual interpretation undermines the coherence of collective memory, leading to fragmented and contested representations of the past.

Implications of Individualistic Remembering

The shift towards individualistic remembering raises several concerns regarding its implications for collective identity and social cohesion. Firstly, the fragmentation of collective memory impedes the formation of shared narratives essential for fostering a sense of belonging and collective identity (Assmann, 1995). In societies where historical narratives serve as a foundation for social cohesion, divergent memory interpretations can exacerbate social divisions and undermine trust in shared institutions (Misztal, 2003).

Furthermore, individualistic remembering poses challenges to historical preservation and collective heritage. Traditional modes of memory transmission, such as oral storytelling or archival documentation, rely on collective participation and stewardship (Lowenthal, 1998). However, the digitization of memory fragments collective responsibility, as individuals prioritize personal archives over communal repositories. This shift not only jeopardizes the preservation of cultural heritage but also hampers future generations' ability to access shared memory resources (Erll, 2011).

Moreover, the prevalence of algorithmic filtering in digital environments perpetuates cognitive biases and reinforces ideological polarization (Flaxman et al., 2016). By prioritizing content that aligns with users' preexisting beliefs, algorithmic platforms amplify confirmation bias, limiting exposure to diverse perspectives and hindering critical thinking (Pennycook & Rand, 2019). Consequently, individualistic remembering contributes to the erosion of democratic deliberation and informed decision-making, undermining the foundations of a pluralistic society.


In conclusion, human remembering has become increasingly individualistic in recent years, driven by technological advancements and cultural shifts. The proliferation of digital technology, personalized algorithms, and the democratization of knowledge has facilitated personalized memory formation, diverging from collective narratives. While individualistic remembering offers autonomy and customization, it poses significant challenges to collective identity, historical preservation, and social cohesion. Addressing these concerns requires a multifaceted approach that balances individual agency with collective responsibility, fostering inclusive memory practices that bridge divergent perspectives and uphold shared values.


Assmann, J. (1995). Collective memory and cultural identity. New German Critique, 65, 125-133. Erll, A. (2011). Memory in culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Flaxman, S., Goel, S., & Rao, J. M. (2016). Filter bubbles, echo chambers, and online news consumption. Public Opinion Quarterly, 80(S1), 298-320. Hoskins, A. (2009). The Mediatisation of Memory. In C. Kerner & K. Neuberger (Eds.), Media and Cultural Memory (pp. 109-124). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Lowenthal, D. (1998). The heritage crusade and the spoils of history. Cambridge University Press. Misztal, B. A. (2003). Theories of social remembering. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Penguin. Pennycook, G., & Rand, D. G. (2019). Fighting misinformation on social media using crowdsourced judgments of news source quality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(7), 2521-2526. van Dijck, J. (2016). Cultural Memory and the Mediation of the Visual. In R. Parthesius (Ed.), Cultural Dynamics of Climate Change and the Environment in Northern America (pp. 235-250). New York: Routledge.

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