Said Armand Salacrou, French writer and dramatist, who a man without memories is a lost man . To this day,…
Said Armand Salacrou, French writer and dramatist, who a man without memories is a lost man . To this day, most users trust their smartphone to store your memories in the form of photographs and videos . We do not want that beautiful sunset sitting on a terrace with our partner is in “oblivion”; we want to be able to relive that beautiful scene in that idyllic place, and we want to remember all the places we visited on our last trip. For this we use the mobile phone, and maybe we should stop doing it (so much).
A study published in the May edition of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has shown that “The use of media [smartphones, in this case] during an experience affects the memory of that experience” , as well as “Individual and social experiences”. In other words more clear: photograph a sunset make you remember worse that sunset.
For the experiment, the researchers took a group to the Memorial Church of Standford , an incredible building with a myriad of details, from stained glass windows to frescoes, going through paintings of different types. Some of the attendees brought an iPod with camera and they were trained to take pictures, while others entered without any device. The group had Walk around the church as a normal tourist would.
A week later, the participants had to undergo a surprise test with 10 questions about the details of the church . Users who entered the site empty-handed guessed right average of seven questions. Those who brought an iPod hit about six . The mere fact of taking pictures, as the author of the study says, made participants retain less information . The reason is more than obvious: l to camera is an element that generates distraction , and by distracting ourselves with it we stop paying attention to the experience itself.
The experiment was repeated with 380 participants who had to watch a TED talk. Those who took notes on the screen of an iPad withheld less information.
Another explanation offered by the authors for this phenomenon is what in psychology is known as cognitive discharge (Evan F. Risko and Sam Gilbert were the researchers who named him). To not delve too much into this term, stick with this: the cognitive download is the process through which we outsource our mental abilities to a computer . In other words, “Why pay attention in class if I can access all the information in Wikipedia this afternoon?”
There are many studies that have talked about this phenomenon, although the best known was published in the journal Science in 2011. This showed that if you tell a person that their information will be stored on a computer, it is less likely to remember it on its own . This is not necessarily bad, since it depends on the context. It’s not the same as not remembering a friend’s cell phone that an airline pilot does not know how to land and has to look for the steps in Google.
In the subject that concerns us, which are memories and photography, it is not that smartphones make us more “stupid”, but that they are changing the way our brain works , refocusing our attention. In another investigation, a group of students was taken to a museum and some were asked to take pictures, and others were not. The former remembered the details much better, the pictures they saw, etc., but, nevertheless, they did not remember well what the guide was explaining . Does that mean they are more “dumb”? No, they mean they focused their attention on other aspects.
In a similar study it was shown that when the participants use the camera zoom, their memories of objects in an exhibition improve. That’s because they paid attention to the details.
Another interesting aspect is that Sharing photos on social networks also alters the way we remember the scene . According to Vox, another study found that, when sharing photos on social networks, we tend to 1) remember the experience in the third person – as if we were a stranger watching from the outside – and 2) enjoy less the experience of taking pictures. These experiences, according to the authors, They are less intense and less genuine.
At the end, everything comes down to the question “How do you want to remember your experiences?” . If you want to take pictures, make them of those details that you want to remember, but without stopping paying attention to the scene as a whole. A sunset, for example. Take a picture and, come out, leave the phone. It is not necessary that the photo is perfect , it is enough that, when you see her, she reminds you of the total scene.
The best is leave the camera of the mobile quiet and enjoy the moment. Nobody can take away the memories that you keep in your head, which are, after all, the ones that really matter.
Sources : Vox , Journal of Experimental Social Psychology , Science
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