Retrieval can mess up all sorts of things. The retrieval of a story can affect what you will continue to remember and what you’re likely to forget. It’s simple, imagine: You’re sitting around a table with your best friends after having finished your meal, sipping your drinks and just talking. You decide to share a story, we make more decisions then we realize at that moment. You can’t possibly share every detail, you may have a complex mental image of the harbor you wish to describe, but you can’t mention every house, every seagull, every wave, footpath… You see where I’m going here? The story you choose to share becomes your tellable “That Day We Saw a Whale in the Harbor” story in your head. Retrieval allows your memory to be altered by new information. If you learn new information after you retrieve your old information, you are more likely to misremember or remember fewer details of your story. Remarkably it affects similar types of memories. Forgetting Our Personal Past: Socially Shared Retrieval-Induced Forgetting of Autobiographical Memories. Charles B Stone, Amanda Barnier, John Sutton, and William Hirst. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23148464
The same happens, of course, if someone else tells the same story. Your Significant Other came too, and they’re sitting next to you and both of you aren’t mentioning something. You two had a big fight day 1 and there was a terrible tension the rest of the time. You decided that you really don’t travel well together but you’ve been leaving that part out (why would you tell people anyway?). Every time you don’t mention it you start to forget it, in fact, you might mention how much you liked spending that time together and that you’re actually pretty compatible traveling partners
Hilariously, (at least I think it is), I use this on myself to convince me to do things, experiments you might say. One of which is that I don’t like popcorn, I’ve been saying that for years now, it wasn’t true at first, but right now I consider it to be true. I imagine if I eat it, I might like it, but the memory and information I have regarding it is “I don’t like it”. I also did that in order to lie to my parents, I found out that if I told them that I didn’t take the candy enough times, I’ll actually believe it myself. I remember when it first happened, I was sitting on the floor of my room and I had been thinking in my head that I hadn’t done it and suddenly I realized that I actually believed myself. At that point lying was easy, I really hadn’t done it. Really! (Oh, and don’t tell my parents)
Speaking of which, this is sort of a side note: People, watch what you say. If you say it enough, you’ll believe it. Self-deprecating remarks and too much playful insulting to your friends can lead to true belief in what’s being said.
This forgetting has to do with the cues used to retrieve the memory, so other memories associated with the same cue as the memory recalled are in danger. You might forget that trip to another harbor. This may be due to the new strength that the story you just told’s neural pathway has, sharing is apparently not caring.
This really disturbs me, personally. So we traveled all over the world, this stopped at college for me and so it’s all stored in my long-term memory. I love telling stories about things that have happened and I treasure my memories (especially since I’m not adding anything remarkable nowadays), but I have a horrible memory and have always worried I might lose thing. In fact, I actively tried to go over as many things from different places as I can, wanting to renew the memories so to speak. What have I cut out of my life from doing this?!
P.S. I’ve been trying to remember a personal experience of a time where my family or I added something to a story and then we just adopted it. There is one, and this is not me misremembering (but then I wouldn’t know, would I?) and it’s driving me nuts that I can’t think of it. I remember them saying it and my sister and I both looked at my parents who’d said it, but after that it was just a part of the story.