Want an unforgettable vacation?  Leave your smartphone at home!

Want an unforgettable vacation? Leave your smartphone at home!

I’m not a proficient globe runner, but I do enjoy quick relief. Last month I visited Carcassonne in the south of France, and a year ago I visited Valencia.

If you doubt me, I can provide evidence – my phone memory is dominated by images of both.

It wasn’t always the case – go back ten years or more and you’d be hard pressed to find a photographic guide to my travels to Krakow, Rome, Barcelona or Tuscany.

I am not sure what happened—I might have had the pleasure of going back to such pleasant times—but my former resistance always had a cause; I thought that focusing on getting the perfect picture would detract from the “being in the moment” experience, and that I’d end up remembering the picture on my phone and the experience of taking the picture rather than the place itself.

I am still aware of this danger, and I severely limit myself to the time I spend taking pictures. However, looking back at Carcassonne, much of my memory is looking at the beautiful old town through a screen.

Was I right in the resistance? Should I go back to Luddite hurdles?

Fortunately, some research in psychology can help us decide.

In 2014, Linda Henkel investigated this issue by bringing research participants to an art museum in the USA. They were asked to examine some of the exhibits and photograph others. Next, they were tested for their memories of the exhibits and the trip.

What I found is that the people who took pictures of the whole (not just parts) of the exhibits had a worse memory regarding the details of the objects, the objects themselves, and where they are in the museum. She described this phenomenon as the effect of obstructing photo taking.

The result of this study was also not one-time – it was repeated in similar studies.

But Henkel’s job involved taking one photo – and who takes one with a smartphone? If there’s a photo worth taking, you want to get it right – as evidence, there are many photos on my phone of Old Carcassonne at night, (I mention my best efforts here!).

Surely taking multiple photos should make a difference – right?

Well, Julia Sharks and Benjamin Storm, from Mississippi State University and University of California at Santa Cruz respectively, investigated this question and recently published their findings.

They conducted three separate studies—in one person, 30 plates were shown on a screen, one after the other, and asked to either look at each of them, take one picture on the smartphone, or take five pictures on the smartphone; The worst memory was found where five photos were taken.

The second study had participants either take no pictures of any of the pictures, take one picture for each picture, or take five pictures of each; Here, the two sets of photos had worse memories than those who just looked, although the one-photo set had worse.

In the final study, the group of five photos were asked to take five different shots of each photo, rather than just taking the same angle five times – and they were worse at remembering than just looking.

So what is taking her home? It seems, in general, that if you’re taking pictures of your experience, you won’t remember the experiences either.

but why? It might be because we’re ceding the memory responsibility to our devices – after all, it’s easier and we’re cognitively stingy where possible. It is probably most likely that when we focus on the picture we take, we don’t really care about the thing we’re photographing well – so in our efforts to preserve memory, we don’t make an effective memory at all.

Is there anything we can do? Henkel found that zooming in on certain aspects of an object we are photographing does not negatively affect memory compared to just looking; But this probably only leads to strange pictures of parts of things.

Kristen Dale of USC Los Angeles suggests that conscious imaging (where we focus on the lived experience rather than the outcome) can enhance memory.

Or do whatever works best for me. Go on vacations with the company of a witch, and let them take pictures while you enjoy the experience. Just don’t show them this article.

#unforgettable #vacation #Leave #smartphone #home

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