Mark Twain once remarked: “When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not; but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter.”
From birth until natural death, our experiences meld us into the persons we have become (and are becoming). Some of these are so-called Kodak moments: births, baptisms, first loves, marriages, children, and grandchildren. In regard to these, how many of us can recall those unforgettable vocals sung by Paul Anka: “Remember, do you remember, the times of your life?”
But what about the ordinary, Madison Avenue stimuli we are exposed to that finds a place into our memory and just seems to stick there? Years ago, I attended a concert where, prior to the main act, a band played many of the 1970s commercial jingles crafted by Barry Manilow. As I listened to State Farm’s “Like a Good Neighbor” and Band Aid’s “Stuck on Me” and McDonald’s “You Deserve a Break Today,” I was transported back in time and remembered how those jingles were so much a part of American life. These many years later, I wager to say that they are still with us, although in the form of letters and numbers resting in a Juke Box. After punching A4 or B2, they play. But in reality, the mere mention of them automatically sets in motion the songs—within our minds.
Today, while jingles remain an important part of the advertising lexicon, the days of advertisers enticing us through the airwaves and hoping that eventually we will flock to a shopping mall to purchase their products are long gone. With the internet, our transition is now from jingle to website to hurried sale, after which we await the next-day delivery of our items.
Although convenient, this has also wrought a vast and seemingly endless dictionary of user names and passwords. Whether from online banking, investments, Amazon, or any conceivable store in between, each beckons us to choose a new user name and password. Now for those of us with goals of consistency, just one user name and password is required. However, for those like myself, there is a recognition that each site possesses a different level of importance in our lives. As such, we create a hierarchy of various user names and passwords for the websites we visit. And with this variety arises ultimate confusion. In our efforts to “protect” ourselves from those who would steal our identity on the world-wide web, we create chaos and find ourselves dumbfounded at websites that warn us that we have entered the wrong identification and have only “three more tries” before we are locked out.
Regarding all of this, one of my greatest worries is that on my deathbed, rather than focusing upon prayer and things eternal, I will instead recite some old password from a closed website resting in some internet cemetery.
Or given our decades-long exposure to advertising stimuli, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if one of my last thoughts is: “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun” along with a frosty bottle of the “Real Thing.”
Should something like this happen, however, I think God will be merciful. After all, He knows, that I know, that only He is the “Real Thing.”