One of the most prized talents of a professional musician is to be able to perform their compositions as close as possible to the original recording. Despite sincere efforts to maintain a constant standard in this area, all of them inadvertently change their songs over time. As they grow older, their voices change, they pronounce lyrics differently, or they are unable to replicate the performance level of their younger selves. It was just a fact of life of growing older until very recently.
This unintended song evolution would continue over time. Eventually the music bore little resemblance to what the audience loved about the original recording. The musical ‘decay’ was a career killer for older music artists. It meant less people in the seats during their nostalgia themed concert tours. To prevent the costly decline in fan interest, the affected performers started using a new memory revitalization technique called ‘Refresh’.
While the futuristic technology was primarily pioneered to help maintain the quality of musical performances, the word got out. it quickly spread to other applications. A brain scanning device was used to locate the oldest memory related to a specific event. Then it was used to overwrite all subsequent reoccurrences of the same information by using the same chemical process our brain uses to remember things.
The idea is that the purest, most accurate version of any memory is the first one. All later recollections related to remembering an original event would reflect a certain level of mental distortion or decay. By replacing all later, imperfect copies of the original knowledge, it helped the entertainers perform the most authentic rendition of their songs.
Naturally, it wasn’t just musical performers who wanted to take advantage of this exciting new technology. Police investigators requested that crime witnesses undergo the procedure. People who wanted to remember their first time with a new lover, or someone who desired to relive a past glory or an academic achievement, were also very common customers of the rising tech company. Any instance where a clearer memory of the past was an advantage, was promoted as an ideal reason to use ‘refresh’. It became known as ‘the nostalgia circuit’ for the clever double meaning behind it. Originally it was intended to improve performances on the rock music nostalgia circuit. Later it came to also include the chemical repair of fading memories
of people in their cerebral ‘nostalgia circuits’.
While it was expensive as first, the price of ‘memory touch-up’ work dropped considerably over time. It became fashionable to have even the most common of memory events ‘refreshed’. No one wanted to be limited by nature’s fragile database. Science could improve on the fading human experience. Why walk around with an incomplete version of one’s last spousal fight? Why have a poor recollection of our tenth birthday party? Eventually, some fastidious people even began to have their last ‘refresh’ session, refreshed.
With human memory being such a tangible, finite thing, it was only a matter of time before the touched up memories themselves started to distort and fade. Maintaining the clearest version of one’s most prized memories became a competitive obsession among the status quo. As in many things, science gets ahead of itself and charges blindly into new medical horizons before knowing what dangers lie over the hill. By the time all the damaging psychological issues of the ‘refresh’ process came to light, almost everyone in the world had been directly affected.
More specifically, there was a troubling issue with its methodology. There was a huge lapse in nostalgia discrimination between full original memories, versus a brief reflection of the same past event. Failing to recognize the significant difference between them caused an accidental, irreversible erasure of more recent, unrelated memories.
If someone thought briefly about a prior refreshed event, the chemical programming would instead replace their abbreviated flashback with the full original memory, in its entirety. In this unfortunate way, many nearby things were accidentally associated and overwritten.
It was similar to the disc storage space that a full length movie would occupy on a hard disc drive. If a ‘find and replace’ computer program incorrectly associated a full film with its much shorter trailer of previews of the same file name, it could accidentally erase and overwrite all instances, up to the normal memory space which the full movie used.
People soon had huge, unrepairable gaps in their everyday memories. Every time they thought about the ‘refreshed’ events, another large chunk of their short-term memory data was lost. That it turn, would trigger them to think much more often of the vivid, full recollections dominating their damaged mind. It was a destructive cycle that got exponentially worse with each parasitic circuit.
The victims of this crippling memory disease only had a handful of remaining memories to dwell on. The average, short-term events of their lives were completely lost. All while the nostalgia circuit played on a monotonous, continuous loop. As promised, they were as pristine and accurate as the first time they were experienced. In the end though, that was of no importance.
The destruction to the human race was absolute and complete. Like a mental virus, it was so embedded into the public consciousness that it was impossible to remove. No one could even remember the ‘refresh’ technology in the first place. The infantile survivors drifted around helplessly. They were incapable of making new memories or forming lucid thoughts. One technological scientific advancement had set the human race back more than one hundred thousand years in evolution.
Only the remaining children too young for the nostalgia circuit were free of its deadly influence and effects. They would have to educate themselves and raise humanity back out of its newly primal state.