SCIENCE SAYS TAKING PHOTOS OF EVERYTHING MAKES US HAPPIER - BUT ARE WE BECOMING TECH JUNKIES?
It’s a modern bugbear: go to a concert, festival, or on holiday and rather than seeing eyes widen with delight, all you see is a sea of camera lenses. Us Millennials, eh? We can’t enjoy anything unless we’ve snapchatted it to prove what a cool time we’re having. Pictures or it didn’t happen… This is a phenomenon that gets talked about a lot, with older generations admonishing us for viewing everything through a screen.
I’ve felt the guilt of this before. Judging myself for taking videos during a show. And is there some truth in what they’re saying? Can we truly make the most of our experiences if we’re too busy trying to record the perfect version of it for Instagram?
Apparently we can. According to a new study by three US universities – maybe not. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California and Yale University carried out nine experiments on two thousand participants, undertaking various activities such as bus tours, museums or eating in a food court. In the varied activities, some people were encouraged to take photographs and some were told not to. In almost every case, people who took photographs reported higher levels of enjoyment in the activity.
So there you have it! Getting daggers, tuts and sighs from people while you’re trying to take a perfectly framed image? Sod ‘em – cos now you know the truth. You’re just making the most of it! The study suggests that the key to our enjoyment of experiences lies in the intention of what you’re doing. If you’re carefully filming video or capturing great still images it means that you’re engaging with the subject and likely to be fully immersed in the moment. There were cases identified where this wasn’t the case, for example when people were using cumbersome camera equipment or doing arts and crafts, but that seems understandable; how are you supposed to enjoy gluing fiddly pieces of pasta onto a photo frame if your sticky fingers are always reaching for your camera phone?
This does make me wonder about our mental state these days, however… Have we become so hooked and dependent on technology that we’re unable to concentrate on something fully without the additional task of taking pictures? I find myself baffled at my attention span sometimes – without even realising it I now basically can’t watch television without being on my phone at the same time. It’s like my hands go onto autopilot and need something to do. Even when I tell myself off for being a tech-junkie millennial, knowing that a gripping episode of SVU should be enough to keep my attention, my wandering hands soon find their way back to a game of Papa Pear. What’s a girl to do? We’re a generation of busy little multitaskers with too much to do – to the point where sometimes just doing one thing is actually a bit of a challenge.
This study shows that we can ignore the video and Instagram naysayers all we like - if taking a picture of every gig, festival or birthday party is making us happy, what's the problem? And if you find that recording your every move on social media makes you pay attention to good things going on around you, then more power to you. On the other hand, if you realise you’re a bit too plugged into the matrix, then maybe save your phone for calling your friend (who couldn’t get tickets) when their favourite song comes on instead.