Home How to Recreate the Past on Facebook

How to Recreate the Past on Facebook

The rollout of Facebook Timeline forces you to take a look back at your own “Facebook past,” and think about whether you want to add to it.

Today 1000memories launched the ShoeBox Facebook app, which gives you an opportunity to scan paper photos from the past and post them to Facebook. It brings back those “pre-Internet photos from the past.”

“A Facebook Timeline-integrated app (such as ShoeBox) which lets you post photos into the past, represents a recreation of an autobiographical memory,” says Dr. Ash Nadkarni of the Boston Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry. (She co-authored the study “Why Do People Use Facebook?”) “There are several facets of this activity that could influence our perception of our memories — specifically by triggering memory bias, a cognitive bias that enhances or impairs the recall of a memory.”

The other day, a Facebook friend of mine started posting photos from a trip she took to Cuba in the early 1980s. The photos were crisp, sharp and smartly framed. This, however, is not one of those photos. I borrowed it from a Flickr album called “Cuba 1981”.

If this photo belonged to you, and you wanted to put it into the year 1981 on your Facebook Timeline, you could use ShoeBox to do that.

“It’s easy to forget that Facebook is only seven years old, which means most of our photos and memories are not online yet,” says 1000memories co-founder, Rudy Adler. “We built ShoeBox to finally get these photos from our past out of the closet and online where they can be enjoyed by everyone.”

These photos might be enjoyed, but how will sharing them affect the memory you have of what actually happened?

“Sharing photos into your past plays on a type of memory bias called rosy retrospection, the remembering of the past as having been better than it really was,” says Dr. Nadkarni. “So, as a result, a person may wind up remembering their first date as having been much better than it really was.”  

Posting old photos could also trigger an egocentric bias, explains Nadkarni, which recalls the past in a self-serving manner. “When a person posts and views a picture of their college graduation–they may remember their exam grades as being better than they were.”

Another bias that posting old photos could trigger is the misinformation effect. “Misinformation affects people’s reports of their own memory,” Dr. Nadkarni explains. “So, if a friend posts a comment to your wall about a photo of the two of you together at your high school prom as ‘great party,’ you’re more likely to remember it as such, even if you’d actually had a so-so time.”

Facebook Timeline wants us to upload those photos, regardless of any cognitive bias they could trigger.

After installing the Facebook ShoeBox app, you can connect with Facebook friends or e-mail address book contacts. You can also download the ShoeBox iPhone app to start scanning, or just upload photos directly from your computer to Facebook.

The makers of ShoeBox want to help you dig up–err, remember–your past. Because without it, how can you truly be yourself on Facebook?

Flickr image via Alan Denney.

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