The Surprising Benefits of Forgetting and Substack's View of Content Moderation: Finding Common Ground


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 06, 2023

4 min read


The Surprising Benefits of Forgetting and Substack's View of Content Moderation: Finding Common Ground

In a world where information overload is a constant struggle, it's interesting to explore the concept of forgetting and its surprising benefits. The human brain is a complex organ, and understanding how memory functions can shed light on why forgetting is actually a valuable process. On the other hand, Substack, a popular platform for writers, has taken a unique approach to content moderation and believes in empowering users to make their own choices. While these topics may seem unrelated at first glance, there are common points that connect them and provide valuable insights.

When it comes to memory, we often associate it with the ability to remember everything. However, research suggests that forgetting actually plays a crucial role in our cognitive abilities. If we were to remember every single piece of information, it would be much harder to generalize, abstract, and filter that information. Our brains need the ability to forget in order to be more creative and make unexpected connections among key ideas. This is why many creative individuals seem to function best in the morning, when their minds are fresh and more open to new possibilities.

Interestingly, the process of remembering and forgetting occurs in different regions of the brain. The save function, which involves storing information, is localized in a structure called the hippocampus. On the other hand, the retrieve function, which allows us to access stored memories, is located in the prefrontal cortex. Additionally, the hard drive, where most memories are stored, is situated towards the back of the brain. Understanding these different regions helps us comprehend how memories are distributed and how they can be strengthened or weakened.

One of the key benefits of forgetting is its role in generalizing and sorting information. Imagine if everything in life was novel, even the people and places we know. This constant novelty would lead to an anxious state, which is why our brains require the ability to generalize information. This process allows us to categorize and sort things, making our daily lives more manageable. It raises an interesting question about which part of the brain is responsible for generalization and sorting, and whether someone with a perfect memory can still generalize, abstract, and filter effectively.

Forgetting also has a significant impact on our emotional well-being. We all know that dwelling on negative emotional memories can be disabling. The ability to let go of the emotional component of memories is crucial for healing and moving forward. Behavioral interventions, such as engaging in a socially active network after a trauma, can actually accelerate emotional forgetting. This highlights the importance of socializing and finding support in order to overcome difficult experiences.

On the other hand, Substack takes a different approach to content moderation. Instead of prioritizing engagement and algorithms that maximize clicks, Substack's key metric is writer revenue. They believe in empowering readers to choose what they see and support the writers they trust. By subverting the power of the attention economy, Substack aims to put people in control and build a better future for writing and culture. They reject advertising and believe in hosting a broad range of views, which they believe is good for democracy.

The connection between forgetting and Substack's view of content moderation lies in the idea of trust. Forgetting allows us to let go of emotional components and move on, while Substack prioritizes writers' trust and gives readers the power to choose who to trust. Both concepts challenge the prevailing media ecosystem and offer alternative approaches that prioritize individual agency and freedom of choice.

In light of these insights, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace the power of forgetting: Recognize that forgetting is a natural and necessary process that allows for creativity and the ability to generalize information. Don't be afraid to let go of emotional components that may be holding you back.
  • 2. Seek diverse perspectives: Just as Substack embraces a broad range of views, make an effort to expose yourself to different opinions and ideas. This can help strengthen discourse and promote a healthier media ecosystem.
  • 3. Double-check and search for unknowns: Rather than relying solely on your memory, actively seek out information and double-check facts before making decisions. This can help you avoid errors and ensure that you have a more comprehensive understanding of the situation.

In conclusion, the surprising benefits of forgetting and Substack's view of content moderation provide valuable insights into the importance of memory, trust, and individual agency. By understanding the role of forgetting in our cognitive abilities and embracing platforms that prioritize user choice, we can navigate the complex world of information more effectively and make better decisions. So, let's embrace forgetting, seek diverse perspectives, and always double-check before making judgments.

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