Thomas Dixon lost his episodic memory in a traumatic brain injury, and Twitter is helping him get it back.
John Paul Titlow (Associate Editor, FastCoLabs) writes:
Thomas Dixon has no idea what he did yesterday. Sitting across from me at an outdoor cafe, he tries to jog his memory by doing what a lot of us do habitually: checking his iPhone.
Specifically, he pulls up Twitter and starts scrolling through his own feed. “Ah right,” he says. “I was talking to my friend Stephanie about our New Year’s Eve plans.” On this drizzly Friday afternoon in downtown Philadelphia, nothing seems even remotely unusual about a guy checking his phone to look something up.
But unlike you or I, Dixon isn’t exercising a compulsive, unnecessary habit. Without his phone, he literally wouldn’t be able to remember what he did yesterday. Twitter is his memory.
Four years ago, Dixon was out for a run near his parents’ house when he was struck by a car and injured so badly that doctors weren’t sure if he would survive. He doesn’t remember the accident, but it left a permanent and pervasive mark on his life: Since that day, his memory hasn’t been the same. In particular, his episodic memory—specific, autobiographical details like where he was, who he met, what he ate and the like—has been compromised by the traumatic brain injury he sustained that late November afternoon.
“I’m always aware of what I’m talking about and who I’m with in the moment,” Dixon says. “I just don’t know what happened yesterday or the day before. My declarative episodic memory is shot.”
Since the accident, Dixon has relied heavily on his smartphone to augment the part of his brain that is no longer functioning properly. He uses Twitter throughout the day to make note of the details he isn’t likely to remember tomorrow: What he was reading about, what kind of coffee he ordered, who he spoke to. Even the details of his sex life, which he tweets about in Korean to avoid embarrassing over-the-shoulder moments. All of this goes into his private Twitter account, which he can later refer to, search, and analyze.
Read more of this story at: This Man Uses Twitter To Augment His Damaged Memory ⚙ Co.Labs ⚙ code + community.