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Create Your Very Own False Memories by Lying on Facebook

The brain is notoriously poor at recalling past events, and social media just makes it worse

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smithsonian.com

The past probably isn’t as rosy as you think. Researchers have found that people create false memories by themselves or can be easily swayed to do so. We also suppress memories that are "painful or damaging to self-esteem," reports Psychology Today. If you’ve felt left out of this false memory bandwagon, don’t worry—research suggests a simple way to fabricate your reality. Just use Facebook.

A fifth of young adults between 18 and 24 say that they "frequently lie about their relationships, promotions at work and holidays," reports Sarah Knapton for The Telegraph. Since memory is so unreliable on its own, writing a false record could easily lead to modified memories, Richard Sherry, a founding member of the Society of Neuropsychoanalysis told The Telegraph.

Our desire to paint our life as exciting and worthy of social support is to blame. Sherry says:

[T]he dark side of this social conformity is when we deeply lose ourselves or negate what authentically and compassionately feels to be 'us'; to the degree that we no longer recognize the experience, our voice, the memory or even the view of ourselves.

When this starts to happen, feelings of guilt and distaste towards ourselves can create a cognitive trap of alienation and possibly even a sense of disconnection and paranoia.

That’s a lot of heavy stuff to pile on a social media network. But then, previous research shows just how much Facebook influences us: Facebook statuses are easier to remember than book quotes, and all the (apparently false) happiness we see there tends to make us sadder about our own lot. Social approval, like that presented through engagement from peers on social media, only serves to strengthen the formation of false memories.

But we can learn to take this potentially false information in stride. One study suggests that people are less confident about information when it is presented in a Twitter-like feed. So perhaps the only people really fooled by our social media lies are ourselves.

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