EMILY BADGER DEC 10, 2013
Our cities, neighborhoods, and favorite spaces have never been quite so widely photographed before. Anyone with a smart phone now has a camera. Anyone with Instagram is a faux-fine-art photographer. And any old subject – a puddle of water, a yellow school bus – suddenly demands we capture the moment.
It seems highly likely, though, that the ubiquity of digital photography – and the weird ways we now behave because of it – may be altering how we perceive the world around us. Technology is doing this in numerous ways. Why not through cell-phone cameras, too?
Or, as psychological scientist Linda Henkel asks in a new study in the journal Psychological Science: “To what extent does capturing one’s life events with a camera shape what one subsequently remembers?”
Photography may focus our observation on the things around us. Or it may do the opposite.
There are a couple of ways to think about the potential answer. Photography may focus our observation on the things around us. Or it may do the opposite, dividing our attention (in the same way that talking on the phone while driving does). 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.
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