Ever noticed how often we whip out our phones to take a photo? Hey, we’re wearing the same colour today – photo. My food really does look delicious – photo. I love how that leaf looks against that pavement – photo. Does anyone else feel like it’s all getting a bit arbitrary?

According to recent US research published in the journal Psychological Science, this modern obsession with having to document every little thing by photo is actually impairing our ability to remember all these events – because rather than concentrating on the moment at hand, we are more concerned about taking pictures. It’s almost like we count on the camera to remember for us.

I’ve definitely experienced this first-hand. One moment that stands out in my memory was at an event a few years ago. I remember getting increasingly frustrated with my friend who, instead of enjoying the performance, wanted to take multiple photos and videos of us enjoying it. And all for what? After all, I don’t think we ever looked back on those photos. When you honestly think about it, we document all these moments so that we can upload them to social media and reap some kind of self-worth from the affirmation of our followers (who often aren’t a part of our life otherwise). Sad, but true – and in the process, we miss out on having a good time in real life!

The other thing about taking so many photos is that their value is lost. There’s something so magical about old photos, and I think that is because they were so few and far between. Photos these days are too many, and so quickly replaced by new ones that there isn’t the time to appreciate them. And instead of being taken with the intention of documenting a special event, like a wedding or birthday, they are taken any time and all the time – “just woke up”, “feeding the dog”, “mirror selfie just because”.

In itself, there is nothing wrong with a photo or wanting to share something exciting with others. But when you actually take the time to think about it, our culture’s addiction to photo-taking seems a little intense, distracts us from taking part fully in what we are doing, and becomes somewhat ridiculous (this satirical piece hits the nail on the head). What do you think? Is this a healthy or unhealthy trend?

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.