Wanna Remember Your Holiday Better? Don’t Take So Many Pictures

Snapping everything you see isn't gonna help you remember it.

A researcher from the University of California Santa Cruz has found evidence that suggests taking a picture of something impairs your memory of it.

We’re not trying to tell you that a cute Colosseum pic, or cringey lil’ number of you holding up the Leaning Tower aren’t allowed. That would be torture! And hey, having a few keepsake photos are important.

But hopping off a tour bus and snapping literally every thing you darn see? That might be doing more harm than good.

Memory > Photos

It’s commonly believed that by taking a photo of an experience/landmark/event, we’ll be able to remember it better. But in doctorate student Julia Soares’ research, she found it’s doing the opposite.

She asked three participants to have a look at a painting and told them they’d be tested on what they saw. She got one of them to just look at it without taking a photo, another to look and take a photo, and another to look and take a Snapchat.

When given multiple-choice tests about the painting, the people who took the picture scored much worse than the person who just stood and took it in. One of them scored 20 per cent worse!

Apparently, this is due to a phenomenon called “cognitive offloading” where you subconsciously decide not to store the information because you know the camera has got you. But the thing is: how often will you really return to that blurry photo of a lake? Our guess is not very often.

So if you want to really remember that sunset in Capetown, or the real-life costumes you peered at the Harry Potter Studio, don’t take a picture of it. Just stand there, have a long look, and take it in.

(Lead image: tangi bertin/Flickr CC)