The problem with snap and go

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The problem with snap and go


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Google says that there are approximately 1.8 billion digital photos taken a day. A 40 million of those were uploaded on Instagram alone. Today’s easy snap, edit and post features of social media apps, not to mention the affordable smartphones, have made capturing any moment a click or a swipe away. We all take these pictures on our smartphones to share it with friends, and maybe the rest of the world, for many reasons. It can be your vacation at the beach, the summer concert or the last museum you visited. Our pictures are a form of “external storage memory” for our brain, as well as a “ communication channel” with our friends. Capturing your last gourmet lunch, the latest outfit or maybe just your sweaty workout face serves as a way to show just how interesting your life is.

On the other hand, all the images which are not necessarily posted or shared on social media function as an outside storage for our memories. When I was a kid, the age of digital cameras had not taken over yet (or at least not in some parts of the world). Because of that, we only took pictures of what we wanted to remember and cherish. When my dad got us all in one frame he had only one or maybe two chances to get it right and the picture would most likely have one of us with our eyes closed. Truth to be told, when I look back at my childhood photos, I like the old “ imperfect” photos where my brother and I would fake a smile and wish our parents just left us to whatever silly things we were doing. The picture itself brings back the memories of those days.

With Instagram stories and snapchat memories in play, we have already lost the chance to revisit those moments years from now. A couple months back, I visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I was awestruck by the paleontology display. Truth to be told, I posted a selfie with the T-rex myself on my feed, but a part of me also made me take a moment and admire the miracles of evolution. Just then I saw a girl, maybe 14 or 15 years old who took a snap with the T-rex skull, I guess with the doggy-face filter (guessing by the weird faces she made for those 10 seconds) and paced to the next exhibit to do the same thing. This made me wonder how the snap and go era has changed our way of seeing the world. Now I may sound like a 50-year-old here and the girl probably had no interest in dinosaurs, but I guess I made my point.

When taking pictures at a concert or a museum we think it will help us remember the event later on. The idea makes sense, but as it turns out, snapping all those pictures might be hurting our ability to recall the event later, not helping it. When you take a picture of something, you are basically counting on the camera to remember it for you. You don’t engage in any of the elaborative or emotional processing that really would help you remember those experiences, because you’ve outsourced it to your camera.

My advice: Every once in a while, leave your phone in your bag, don’t take a picture and just enjoy the moment. Let our brain store this memory and keep this moment private.