Collective Memories


There’s this chap called Mark McKinley, he’s a doctor of clinical psychology. Like every clinical psychologist he spends his days dealing with mental and physical health issues including addiction and compulsive tendencies. When he’s not contemplating the mind he’s writing about it.

McKinley wrote about people and collecting, and according to him everybody collects something.  Whether it’s coin or cereal boxes, comics or barbed wire or even Mersenne primes. McKinley notes that we all collect whatever we collect for different reasons. Some, he posits, collect as part of an investment strategy. OK, fair enough, buying a container load of Protanks in 2013 might not have paid off yet – but just imagine the retirement fund in 90 years time. Is it possible that mods and attys will make it on to the Antiques Roadshow in years to come?

Investment isn’t the only reason to collect according to the doctor. Others do a bit of collecting to meet similar-minded people and expand their social circle. Vapers meet up online and in fields, pubs and exhibition halls to swap tales, tips and laughs. Posting pictures of collections onto social media threads is almost a compulsory part of vaping.

The psychologist has a third bracket for consideration: people collecting to preserve the past. Or rather, to preserve the memories, feelings and emotions that come flooding back when prompted by looking at the collected.

And then there’s also the underlying motivation for embarking on the quest to collect. McKinley reckons that those of us keeping stuff others would throw away fall into three distinct groups. In Group A, there are those of us who live for the quest and relish tracking down an early Hellfire hybrid or unique colour of CE4 to complete our collection. In Group B falls those who wish to see order in the world. These people need to have control over their lives in a way that they don’t get on a day to day basis; so they play collections into groups by make, size, colour or place of origin. Glancing at the alphabetised LP collection to the right nail my group!

Group C collectors are compensators in the same way that middle-aged men drive sports cars or suddenly start going to the gym. These collectors are making up for emptiness in character or possible shortcomings in physical attributes or biological stimulation. I think we can safely agree this last one doesn’t apply to any of us.

All of which is offered up to you by way of an excuse. The next time a purchase is questioned about a purchase, the next time you hear a word of complaint about the space being taken over by vape kit – none of it is your fault, Doc Mark McKinley says so. You are powerless to fight your subconscious; you are biologically programmed to go back online.