Researchers at Harvard University tell us there is a good chance prominent alumnus Barack Obama will remember little to nothing about the Nelson Mandela funeral. Reporters at the Daily Mail write that Harvard scientists discovered people who spend time taking pictures of an event “have trouble remembering what actually happened.”
The scientific term for this outcome is “photo–taking impairment effect.” I call it technology intrusion syndrome.
This is actually an improvement over my initial impression regarding the president’s time at the funeral. I assumed there was a good chance Obama would have at least short–term memory impairment and a potential concussion after Michelle got him alone and began to discuss his "selfie" photo portrait with the comely Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt.
Most of the photos I saw revealed a less–than–amused Michelle starring stonily ahead as her husband held the camera phone and leaned in close to Thorning Schmidt. From the looks of things, there was probably a good chance the missus’ attitude would linger on for the rest of the afternoon.
But you don’t have to be leader of the free world to suffer memory impairment. Anyone who spends more time futzing around with the camera and less time simply participating in one’s life is liable to experience recall gaps.
The specific experiment involved leading a test group on a museum tour. The guide instructed the group to either take a picture of the various artwork and exhibits or try to remember what they had seen without recruiting millions of megapixels. It goes without saying the subjects were students.
At the conclusion of the test, the students' memories of the tour were tested. According to the Daily Mail, students “were worse at recognizing objects they had photographed than those they had only looked at. They were also poorer at recalling details of the objects they had taken pictures of.”
Just guessing, but if the scientists had also instructed the students to make a phone call during the trip, most of them would have been unable to remember even visiting the museum.
This shouldn’t be surprising. In an earlier age, before technology ran rampant, people made it a point to avoid distractions when they were trying to concentrate on their surroundings or expand their cultural horizons.
Now we commit to two–year contracts to pay for our distractions and carry them wherever we go. Often annoying those around us and ruining any chance of remembering what was really important about the day.
As President Obama has discovered to his regret.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.
© Mike Reagan