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Online social networking is highly popular and allows its members to post their thoughts as micro-blogs. This opportunity is exploited by people on Facebook alone, over 30 million times an hour. One does think that such trivial ephemera, would vanish quickly from everyone’s memory. However, they may comprise the sort of information that our memories are tuned to recognize, if that which we readily generate, we also readily store. Recent research published in the journal Memory & Cognition by cognitive psychologist Laura Mickes of the University of California, San Diego, and her colleagues, suggests that Facebook posts are one-and-a-half times as memorable as book sentences.

How they did it?

The authors initially were not researching on Facebook chats per se, but were looking into the effects of emotions on memory, and they happened to be using Facebook posts to invoke various feelings. What they surprisingly found was that the status updates seemed to be memorable all on their own.  They gathered Facebook posts from the accounts of undergraduate research assistants and also randomly selected sentences from recently published books.  They then stripped the posts and book excerpts of their context, and then asked a few college undergraduate students  to study and memorize the selected phrases from either Facebook or books, assigning equal number of students to each group. Then they sat the volunteers in front of a computer screen and, one at a time, displayed either a sentence the volunteer had studied or a sentence that was new to the volunteer. The team asked the subjects if they had seen each before, and how sure they were about it.

What does it prove?

All of this points out to the fact that Facebook, Twitter and other such social messaging platforms have brought the fluidity of personal conversations into written text. And we all know how easily we remember social conversations better.

All of this however, does not mean that you can cram for exams by posting chitchats on Facebook, Twitter etc!!


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