How Instagram Makes Us Forget the Things We Want to Remember



Most people believe they need to take a picture to capture moment. And because of the ubiquitous nature of camera phones, we’re snapping pictures at every concert, sporting event, and family gathering. Instagram has us capturing every lunch, fancy umbrella drink, and every selfie moment.

According to a study by Linda Henkel, faculty member at Fairfield University in Connecticut, this tendency to take pictures of everything may cause us to forget the very moments we were trying to remember in the first place.

Henkel’s research indicated that taking a picture pulls the photographer out of the experience. By filtering the event — a museum trip, in the case of the study — through a camera you become disconnected from it. Henkel said the problem is “counting on the camera to record the event and this not needing to attend to it fully.”

The second part of the memory problem is that digital cameras, and online photo streams like Instagram, encourage us to build large archives of pictures. With such a glut of memories stuffed into our timelines, nobody can make sense of it. Crafting a family photo album is a much more intensive memory laden process than uploading 80 pictures to Facebook.

A big part of memory retention according to Henkel is the ability to look over one’s photos to reminisce. “In order to remember, we have to access and interact with the photos, rather than just amass them.”

So while it’s tempting to document every moment through pictures, maybe put the phone camera away for a while. Immerse yourself in the experience. Drink that latte instead of picking out filters, and selecting hashtags — it’s getting cold.

Image credit:  tsukubajin

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