Experts: Facebook Lies Create False Memories
Study says online lies are 'damaging' our memory
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2014 3:40 PM CST
Updated Jan 3, 2015 10:34 AM CST
In this June 11, 2014 photo, a man walks past a Facebook sign in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif.    (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

(Newser) – Lying your tushy off on social networks may impress your friends, but research suggests that it can also create false memories and disconnect us from our true self, the Telegraph reports. "Being competitive and wanting to put our best face forward—seeking support or empathy from our peers—is entirely understandable," says psychologist Richard Sherry, who helped found the Society for Neuropsychoanalysis. But "the dark side" of such conformity is that online fibbers may become "deeply" lost and forget their actual experience, he says. A new survey by Pencourage doesn't disagree: It finds that 10% of respondents, and 16% of those age 18 to 24, had their recollections distorted after writing about them, the Daily Mail reports.

An earlier Pencourage survey found that social-media lies usually added luster to otherwise ho-hum evenings or made relationships or careers look better; people said they wrote the posts out of jealousy or "fear of appearing boring." The only study to measure the impact of social media on memory, by the Psychonomics Bulletin and Review, considered its impact "damaging to autobiographical memory." Peter Clayton, a co-founder of Pencourage—which hosts over 65,000 online diaries—says we are "slowly wiping" our memories with "scattered" social-media posts, and would benefit from diaries: "We knew there was a real need for a safe space to preserve and share the true chronicles and lessons of our lives, the ones we actually live and should protect," he says. (On the bright side, one study finds that lost memories can be restored.)