There are times in your life that you’re going to never want to forget. They can be things that you can’t fit in a photo or a single space of time in a video, and quite frankly filming the good times while they’re happening can take you out of it a bit. So how do you remember these moments the best? A new study – the first to look at social media’s effect on memory – suggests posting personal experiences on social media makes those events much easier to recall.
“If people want to remember personal experiences, the best way is to put them online,” said Qi Wang, the lead author of the study and professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology in a story published in the Cornell Chronicle. “Social media – blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and others alike – provide an important outlet for us to recall memories, in the public space, and share with other people.”
This is the first research we’ve seen in a while that’s telling us we should be using Facebook more often. Memory Researchers are well aware that when you share and recount your story with others it starts becoming easier to remember in the future, which probably helps when you come back from a world trip and people keep asking you over and over what your favourite parts were.
While you’re at it though, writing your post, you’re also creating yourself as weird as that sounds. “We create a sense of self in the process of recalling, evaluating and sharing with others memories of personal experiences in our lives,” Wang said. “That’s happening when we use social media, without us even noticing it. We just think, ‘Oh, I’m sharing my experience with my friends.’ But by shaping the way we remember our experiences, it’s also shaping who we are.”
What we’re beginning to see is what sociologists are calling “the autobiographical self” expressed in a digital environment. Think of it as a lifelong narrative we have of ourselves. We prune the narrative of ourselves as we go. Under normal circumstances we make a favourable image of ourselves, shunning those less favourable memories in favour of the us we’d like to see.
Every time we post to remember, we’re telling ourselves another piece of our own story.