More and more I find myself in situations where I’m completely dependent upon my smart phone. I hate to say that having a smartphone is making me stupid, but the simple fact is, if I have my smart phone, I know that I don’t have to remember pieces of information and therefore I consider the information I look up over the Internet disposable; it’s not worth saving.
I hate showing my age, but way back when, when cable TV was just being introduced, the Atari 2600 had just come out and touchtone phones were brand-new; people were forced to remember everything because we didn’t have the Internet. Now we have the Internet and we don’t have to remember anything. When you call someone on your Smartphone do you look for their face or do you dial their number? Would you know their number without your Smartphone; most wouldn’t.
So what sparked this little gem was a radio show I was listening to the other night. I heard something that struck a chord. The message was basically that if you utilize the GPS on your phone too much, to get to where you’re going, your brain will go into atrophy. And I thought that was funny.
I look up information every day on the Internet. I learn something new every day off of what has been posted on the Internet and that’s how I keep track of all the new stuff it’s being reported, but I honestly can’t say that having a smart phone or using Google is making me stupid. I think that information researched over the Internet is highly underappreciated and physically devalued when something is researched. What I mean is there’s a lot of information on the Internet and people take for granted that all the information is there. The assumption is that if you found the information once, you can find it again.
Back in the day, if you didn’t have this information, you had to find a friend or a library, or make some phone calls to some other places to find the information; this to work. This took physical work to find the information. Once the information had been found people want to remember it; at that point it was important. If you’re going to go through all the effort to find the answer to a question, you full well better remember it. But now with access to Google, smart phones and the Internet, the information is right there at your fingertips. There’s virtually no effort required to find answers to questions.
And that’s what I mean. The information is already on the Internet, and people make the assumption that the information is there, and it’s always going to be there— it’s underappreciated. And because virtually no physical effort is required to obtain answers there’s no value in storing information in your memories.
This is where I think that having a smart phone and using Google on a regular basis, and yes, using your GPS really comes into play.
It’s important to have access to information, no doubt, but it’s how you use the information once you found out is what’s important. There’s nothing wrong with using Google to do a search every once in a while, but if you find yourself in a situation where you’re having to look at the same answers over and over again, perhaps you need to look at some memory retention exercises. Utilizing a GPS on a regular basis to get to the same location; start exercising your mind.
One of my favorite animated movies is called Wall-E. The premise of the movie is that people have become so dependent on one particular entity, that does everything, that society has stopped thinking and is completely locked into using that companies services.
Every time I see an article about how Google is making people stupid; how voice-recognition searches with Siri and Google voice are augmenting the search results that people do, I look back to this movie and I think about how serious it could be for future users/customers.
But people can make small adjustments to combat this affect:
- When you search something important; bookmark it for later. This extra effort just might be enough effort to retain what you were searching for. Create a custom note for the bookmark.
- If you have to use your GPS; only use it to get where you’re going. Pay attention to where you are and don’t use the GPS to get home. And don’t use the GPS to get back, if you return.
- Think about the question being asked first, before searching Google. It’s so easy just to say ‘Google it’— hell, you might know the answer already, you’ve just programmed yourself to ask Google.
There’s always an opposition to everything, but the import thing is to think about what would you know if you didn’t have access to the Internet or Google. Now you should be scared.
Larry Henry Jr.