It’s also possible that we actively opt not to pay much attention to the scenes we capture, because we’re counting on photos to record everything so we don’t mentally have to. If that’s the case, that would mean that you’re farming out your memory to Instagram as you move through the world.
Emily Badger, How Instagram Alters Your Memory, The Atlantic Cities.
To test this, Henkel, a researcher at Fairfield University, concocted a series of experiments leading undergraduate students on guided tours through the university’s Bellarmine Museum of Art. They looked at paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry and mosaics. The students were given digital cameras to photograph some of the objects and were told to simply observe the others. The next day, they were given a series of recall tests, trying to detect which objects they remembered best in name and detail.
As it turned out, people remembered fewer of the photographed objects, and fewer of the details about them, relative to the pieces of art they’d actively observed with their own eyes.
…There was one catch in Henkel’s findings: She also asked participants to zoom in on and photograph the details of some of these art pieces. And people who did that were much better at remembering the works of art that those who simply wedged entire objects into one frame and then walked away. Perhaps, by focusing consciously on the details, we can cut back on some of this “photo-taking impairment effect.”