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Sticky Business

Hoping to forget the Facebook statuses you read when you’re bored? Good luck.

0513.AmazingFact

ILLUSTRATION BY JEFF QUINN

NOW, BE HONEST: Do you start conversations with “Did you see [friend’s] post on Facebook?” more often than “This reminds me of a book I read …”? If so, you’re not alone. In a recent study in the journal Memory & Cognition, Laura Mickes, a visiting researcher at the University of California–San Diego, showed that people remember social networking posts so much better than sentences from books it’s as if those looking at online posts have normal memory and those looking at books have amnesia. Subsequent analyses and studies showed that the memory boost doesn’t come from the posts’ length, unusual spelling or multitude of exclamation points, or because the posts remind subjects of people they know. A second experiment made the researchers think gossipiness, completeness of thought and lack of self-editing might be responsible. Should we tweet this later so you can remember it? Yeah, we probably should. —JACQUELINE DETWILER

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