Is Technology Altering Our Memories And Interfering With Well-Being?
Technology increasingly allows us to capture and revisit rich digital records of our lives, processes which we call Technology Mediated Memory (TMM). We explore whether TMM alters unmediated remembering and also whether such changes affect psychological well-being. Human memory biases promote well-being by adaptively editing our memories, making them more positive. In contrast, TMM often provides rich records of what people actually did and felt, which could disrupt adaptive edits. To explore this, we developed a smartphone-based personal TMM application, Echo, that allows participants to record and later reflect on everyday events. In a month-long deployment, 64 users made over 3200 recordings and reflections. We found that although Echo TMM alters how we remember, these changes remain adaptive. Instead of compromising adaptive biases, Echo TMM helps well-being and benefits are sustained long-term. Logfile analysis shows that participants use Echo strategically to prospectively edit by initially reporting events positively to anticipate future viewing. Participants also distance themselves from past negative events by reflecting more positively than at recording. We discuss design and theoretical implications.