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Your memory of Facebook posts is likely stronger than your recollection of actual faces or books, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Warwick and UC San Diego found that the conversational and - in many cases - gossipy nature of Facebook posts makes them more "mind ready." That is, it's easier to remember something that's written in more informal, natural language patterns than a more high-brow piece or literature or long-form essay, for example.
"One could view the past five thousand years of painstaking, careful writing as the anomaly," said UC San Diego Professor Nicholas Christenfeld. "Modern technologies allow written language to return more closely to the casual, personal style of pre-literate communication. And this is the style that resonates, and is remembered."
In tests, researchers had subjects look at anonymized Facebook updates - with images and references to Facebook removed - as well as sentences picked at random from books and photos of human faces. The tests showed that people's memory of the Facebook content was 1.5 times their memory for the book excerpts and almost 2.5 times their memory of the photos.
Lead author Dr. Laura Mickes with the University of Warwick said she was "really surprised" by the findings. "These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory," she concluded.
But in examining the results, researchers found that "Facebook updates are easier to memorize as they are usually standalone bits of information that tend to be gossipy in nature."