How Technology Makes Us Stupid
Mobile phones and new technology are damaging our minds. And make us stupid. It’s not because of the radiation close to our brains (though that probably counts too, in a different way), but because it makes our brains lazy. On one hand, we advance tremendously. On the other, we’re dumber and less capable than we were millennia ago.
Decade and a half ago, I had tons of phone numbers in my head, each of them ready to pop out when needed. I never used to write down a new phone, I would just repeat it in my mind once after hearing it, and that was it. And it was not only phone numbers. I could do that with any number of decent length (I never tried to remember more than a dozen of PI decimals).
Now, I know five phone numbers. Two of them take some time recalling. Of the other three, one is my own. And there’s no chance I’d even try to add a new number to that list. There are two reasons for such drastic decrease of my capabilities. One, I’m 15 years older. And those 15 years were filled with activities that doesn’t do much good to the brain cells. The other, in those 15 years I got a mobile phone. And the bloody thing has memory and dials straight from it, so my brain actually never gets in contact with the number. Never! How many times you meet somebody and you give your number which is immediately typed into the phone and then the other person calls you just to leave you their number? You just type the name and never actually read the number. For all you care it could be 15 hexadecimal digits. You just hope to remember the name and face. Or you use the phone’s camera to take a snapshot and connect it to the entry.
It’s not only about simple things like numbers. Years ago, in the dawn of the mobile era, my friends and I could find each other in the crowd of several dozens of thousands of people on the festival grounds. No technology involved. Bit of knowing each other’s habits, bit of intuition and guessing, bit of listening to each other’s plans and we had no trouble being at the same place at the same time. Now, we don’t even try to do something like that. We just fire up the phone. And with fancy services like Google Latitude and GPS, we’ll even be spared of that effort.
Brain is not a muscle, but it needs regular exercise to work just the same. And our regular mental exercising has been replaced by the new technology. It’s the same as when the automobiles became popular. People started to walk less. Decade or two later, rate of heart conditions and obesity increased.
Yes, technology helps us doing our day errands. But for the price of decreasing our brain capabilities. Is it a fair trade? I doubt.
As any math student knows, calculator will never be a good substitution for a working brain. Calculators do the operations much faster and more precise than the brain, but they can’t solve the problem, they only do the operations. And to solve the problem, brain needs to be capable of doing the boring parts of the job as well. Even if it will use a tool as calculator is.
I don’t want to go in the horror scenario, quite possible in a decade or so, when satellites stop working and all those billions of people can’t even find way to their home because GPS is down. The whole civilization that thinks so highly of itself and it’s technical advance, roaming around, lost in its own space. Dumb creatures trying to find a way home. But karma can be a nasty bitch.