Status updates posted on Facebook are likely to be more memorable than human faces or sentences in a book, a new study reveals.
According to a new report titled “Major Memory for Microblogs“, people are more likely to remember Facebook status updates one and a half times more often than sentences from a book, and two and a half times more than a stranger’s face.
Researcher Laura Mickes explained that Facebook is updated around 30 million times each hour making it valid to dismiss the platform as “full of mundane” trivial bits of information that will be instantly forgotten as soon as they are read.
The study however revealed otherwise. “Such trivial ephemera, one might think, should vanish quickly from memory; conversely, they may comprise the sort of information that our memories are tuned to recognize, if that which we readily generate, we also readily store,” the report stated.
“Our study turns that view on its head, and by doing so gives us a really useful glimpse into the kinds of information we’re hardwired to remember,” Mickes told NBC News.“We were really surprised. These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory.”
Mickes said that during the study, she along with UCSD psychology professors Christine Harris and Nicholas Christenfeld, ensured the Facebook posts were not substantially longer or shorter then a sentence in a printed book.
Afterwards, they checked that possible “irregularities” such as emoticons, multiple punctuation or all caps were not included in the status posts shown to study participants. Despite the posts being almost identical to a sentence in a book, the Facebook statuses still proved more memorable.
The posts picked from Facebook reflected significant memorability while memory for book sentences, on the other hand, showed more distinctive memory performance.
The researchers say they became curious about what made the status updates most memorable and a possibility was that Facebook posts represent a complete idea as opposed to a random sentence.
They later showed participants CNN headlines in the categories of “Breaking News” and “Entertainment” at which point they found that the headlines were more memorable than a random sentence in a book.
According to Outcome Magazine, the headlines in the “Entertainment” category were the most memorable, leading researchers to believe that gossipy type news contributes to memorability.
Christenfeld however argued that Facebook updates are “so memorable due to the fact language capacity did not evolve to process carefully edited and polished text.
While many factors can influence the memorability of a set of faces, faces nonetheless can provide some calibration for the magnitude of Facebook’s memorability, measuring whether memory for Facebook posts is particularly strong or memory for sentences from books is particularly weak, the report stated.
Christenfeld said: “One could view the past 5,000 years of painstaking, careful writing as the anomaly. Modern technologies allow written language to return more closely to the casual, personal style of pre-literate communication. This is the style that resonates, and is remembered.”
The study, which was conducted at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD, further reminds Facebook users to be wary of what they post as social faux pas or offensive tirades are not easy to forgot.