Facebook is re-sculpting our memory

2017.07.18 03

For much of history, the only way to chronicle life was to write about it. Now, many of us take selfies on our smartphones to share on Facebook, and create picturesque albums of our daily meals on Instagram. And as the mediums we use to recall and review the past change, so do our very memories.

Daniel Schacter, a psychology professor at Harvard University, first established the effects of photographs on memories in the 1990s. In one experiment, he showed that it was possible to implant false memories by showing subjects photos of an event that they could have conceivably experienced, but didn’t. In another, he found that not only did looking at photos boost the memory of that particular event, but also impaired memories of events that happened at the same time and were not featured in the photographs. The primary focus of Schacter’s lab is on how memory relates to other cognitive abilities. His research has shown that weaknesses in our memory are positive attributes in allowing us to think meaningfully about the future.

Facebook is re-sculpting our memory