Externalizing autobiographical memories in the digital age.
People externalize their autobiographical memories by creating representations that exist outside of their minds. Externalizations often serve personal and social functions, consistent with theorized functions of autobiographical memory. With new digital technologies, people are documenting more memories than ever and are sharing them with larger audiences. However, these technologies do not change the core cognitive processes involved in autobiographical memory, but instead present novel situations that affect how these processes are deployed. Smartphones allow events to be recorded as they unfold, thus directing attention and sometimes impairing memory. Social media increase the frequency of reviewing and sharing records which reactivate memories, potentially strengthening or updating them. Overall, externalization in the digital age changes what people attend to and remember about their own experiences.
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