Why are we stuck in the present?
We associate the past with experiences and information we learn – that’s obvious. It also works vice verca; we associate information and experiences with the past.
Say for the sake of argument, we learn that rhinos are extinct while listening to the radio in your car. A simple piece of information, but just an example.
If someone asks us if rhinos are extinct, we can tell them that in fact they are, because you remember hearing this piece of information while listening to the radio in the car.
If we saw Star Wars in 2010, we know that we have seen Star Wars because we went to the cinema to see it in 2010, or that we went to a really cool house party…and Jamie had it on DVD…and oh my god do you remember Sharon wore that ridiculous jumper and David did a funny dance?
Association of facts with experiences, and therefore, association with the past.
But now with the instant availability of information and entertainment (Wikipedia, Netflix etc etc etc) there is less of an obligation to think back to past experiences or past learnings, because you can easily get your phone out and search for information if someone asks you for a piece of information.
So if someone asks you for a complex piece of info that you know, but you want to explain it better, you would get your phone out and tell them there and then. There would be no obligation to retain that information, or to remember that you told that person in that moment about that piece of information, or remember that you have learnt it on that day.
This is the same with movies and entertainment (just one form of experience but is just an example), if I asked you the last time you saw Star Wars it would probably have been in the last year, or two years, and not ten years ago at the that house party with your old friends with Jamie and Sharon who you now remember and might want to catch up with?
40 years ago we didn’t have home entertainment like we do now. If we wanted to watch a movie we went to the cinema, or waited months for a tv listing. Or went to the theatre. Or went out for walks more often. Or, if we wanted to read a book, or learn something…we went to the library. We made an occasion and experience of getting that information, or going to the movie, or meeting a friend. We made more tangible experiences. That we remember and pinpoint at moments in the past.
Now, with online chats and instant information, there is no obligation to create these temporary but vital experiences in our lives, and we don’t therefore pinpoint them as detailed as we used to.
That is why I believe we live in the present so much now.
P.S. If any psychologists or sociologists want to get in touch and explain more to me why this is happening, or why I might in fact be entirely wrong, comment below or tweet me.