2174: First News Memory
|First News Memory|
Title text: Psychology researchers say our 'flashbulb' memories of big events can be unreliable, but I clearly remember watching live on CNN as Challenger crashed into and destroyed the Berlin Wall.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a FAULTY FIRST NEWS MEMORY. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. (Explain title-text) Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
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7 xkcd characters are discussing their "first news memory", their first memory of an event that was reported by the news media. A person's "first news memory" can vary based on their age, the region where they grew up, and how in touch with the news they are.
The following is a breakdown of the memories given by the characters, in typical xkcd fashion:
Cueball recalls the election coverage from the year 1988. As Randall is usually US-centric, this is probably the 1988 US presidential election in which George H. W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis. Megan recalls the removal of the Berlin wall, which began in 1989.
Hairy recalls the Challenger explosion, which occurred in 1986. Many schools allowed teachers to bring a television to the classroom to show their students, sadly unaware of the impending disaster the children would witness. However, Hairy remembers watching the footage in 1995, so Hairy's teacher was knowingly showing the students recorded footage of a disaster. Presumably, showing a number of young schoolchildren a traumatizing event led to the dismissal.
White Hat says that his first news memory was about the 2016 election (presumably the 2016 US presidential election), which is only three years prior to the publication date of this comic. This implies that he spent most of his life not paying attention to the news.
Black Hat's first sentence is normal in the context of the question. Given only the sentence 'we landed on the moon,' the 'we' is inferred to be 'the United States of America' or 'the human race.' The first moon landing occurred on July 20, 1969. However, Black Hat goes on to say that 'my second memory is my mom telling us we were moving to Earth instead, to blend in with the humans.' This gives a completely different meaning to his first memory, as it is now implied that Black Hat is a humanoid alien who moved to the Moon, but whose mother then decided to move to Earth. Whether any news coverage resulted is unclear. Hairbun then remarks that this revelation explains Black Hat's odd (and usually disruptive) behavior. It is unclear whether Black Hat is telling the truth, but knowing Black Hat, he is likely intentionally trying to unnerve others.
The title text gives the claim that flashbulb memories of big events can be unreliable. Randall refutes this claim, claiming to remember watching on CNN as the Challenger spacecraft crashed into the Berlin Wall. This is an inaccurate memory of these two events, as the Challenger explosion occurred in 1986 over the Atlantic Ocean, just east of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and did not occur near the Berlin Wall (in Berlin, Germany). Also, the Berlin Wall was intentionally demolished starting in 1989; it was not damaged by a space shuttle. It is possible that this memory also conflates those events with those of the September 11 attacks since the latter did involve a winged craft crashing into and destroying a landmark.
- [Ponytail, Cueball, Megan, Hairy, White Hat, Black Hat and Hairbun are all at a party, discussing their earliest news memories.]
- [Panel with Ponytail, Cueball, Megan, and Hairy]
- Ponytail: What's your first news memory?
- Cueball: I always like this question! Mine was the 1988 election.
- Megan: Berlin wall for me. You?
- [Frame-less panel with Megan, Hairy, White Hat, and Black Hat]
- Hairy: Watching the Challenger launch in class. We were so excited; everyone was horrified when it blew up.
- Hairy: It was 1995.
- Hairy: Our teacher got fired soon after.
- [Panel with Hairy, White Hat, Black Hat, and Hairbun]
- White Hat: Mine's the 2016 election.
- Hairbun: ...aren't you in your 30's?
- White Hat: Look, we're not all great about keeping up with the news, OK?
- [Panel with White Hat, Black Hat, and Hairbun]
- Black Hat: My first memory is when we landed on the moon.
- Black Hat: My second memory is my mom telling us we were moving to Earth instead, to blend in with the humans.
- Hairbun: This explains a lot.
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