“As people grew accustomed to writing down their thoughts and reading the thoughts others had written down, they became less dependent on the contents of their own memory” (Carr, 2011).
Besides what Carr discussed in The Shallows, a recent psychological study shows that we have a worse memory of things and events that we took photos of. I first heard about this theory from a friend’s guest in our house, when I told her that I’m a photographer. She responded, “so you must have a bad memory then.” Then she explained to me why, but I didn’t believe what she said until today.
Dr Linda Henkel, who conducted the study at Fairfield University in Connecticut, said: ‘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.”
Henkel also indicates that the “mind’s eye” and the camera’s eye are different. When we are looking at things through a viewfinder, our brain is letting the camera remember it for us. So, to recall that part of memory, we have to look and interact with those photos we took, not just let them sit in the Facebook album.
However, we all are used to capturing moments that are important to us and may think that we will remember it better this way, when in reality we might forget it all in a flash, like what they do in Men in Black.
Carr, Nicolas. “Search, Memory.” In The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, 173. W.W. Norton & Company, 2011.
Henkel, Linda A. “Point-and-Shoot Memories The Influence of Taking Photos on Memory for a Museum Tour.” Psychological Science, December 5, 2013, 0956797613504438. doi:10.1177/0956797613504438.