Taking pictures may ruin what you recall

Snapping photos of every detail of your happiest moments could be wrecking your ability to remember them, a new study finds.

Dr Linda Henkel, from Fairfield University, Connecticut, claims that taking pictures rather than concentrating fully on the events in front of us prevents memories taking hold.

Henkel conducted a study, recently published online in the journal Psychological Science, in which she and her team found that people had worse memory for objects, and for specific object details, when they took photos of them.

To conduct her research, Henkel recruited 28 subjects for a tour of the university's Bellarmine Museum of Art. Subjects paused in front of 30 objects, with subjects randomly assigned to observe 15 artifacts and photograph the other 15. The next day, the research team issued memory tests about the tour, with subjects asked to jot down the names of the objects they saw and respond to questions about details.

Findings showed that subjects had trouble remembering the objects they photographed, something Henkel describes as "photo-taking impairment effect."

"When people rely on technology to remember for them — counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves — it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences," she explains.

Psychologists like Maryanne Garry of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand also claim that taking too many photos can distort memories and alter the way we remember what really happened. It’s like a journal: when people write in a journal, the memory they are writing about is being mediated by their religion, culture, and vocabulary. It`s not a perfect memory because people are choosing what to remember from it.

This is exactly why taking scores of photos depreciates what we’re attempting to capture; the memories don’t seem as memorable anymore. In an attempt to be original, to stand out amongst the almost 300 million other selfies on Instagram, we actually fade into the background. We become mundane.

Photos are no longer about remembering an event; they’re about displaying, showing the world who we are or who we wish to be. We live in a generation in which digital cameras are removing us from the present. Afterwards, when we review the thousands of photos we’ve taken, they are just another thousand photos. They aren’t special.

Why don’t we go back to that time in which we enjoyed sharing time with our loved ones instead of being too busy documenting every single moment of our experiences? At the end, capturing a colossal number of photos of any event is indirectly proportional to our ability to recall the event later on and one day we will only have albums full of pictures of meetings, trips and people we didn`t take full advantage of.

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