Posting everyday, personal experiences to social media boosts memory for them, new research finds.
Professor Qi Wang, who led the research, said:
“If people want to remember personal experiences, the best way is to put them online.
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.”
Just by posting on social media we are constructing our past and ourselves in a particular way.
The study’s authors write:
“The process of writing about one’s experiences in the public sphere, often sustained by subsequent social feedback, may allow people to reflect on the experiences and their personal relevance.”
For the study, participants were asked to keep a diary for a week describing their daily routines.
For each item they rated its importance to them and whether they had posted about it on social media.
After a week they were given a surprise quiz on the number of events they could remember.
The results showed that posting an event on social media made it easier to recall later.
It didn’t matter how important the events were: even relatively insignificant things were better recalled if posted online.
Professor Wang said:
“We create a sense of self in the process of recalling, evaluating and sharing with others memories of personal experiences in our lives.
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.”
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The study was published in the journal Memory (Wang et al., 2016).