I Google everything.
Google is in fact, my homepage. Makes sense - aside from my Gmail (Google mail!), it's probably the website I use the most. That's pretty normal in this 21st century world, to search on the internet for answers to everything from niggling questions or large scale info gathering, but is this progressing beyond being 'a good thing' and into 'harmful' categories?
Although I am pretty sure I am not losing my mind, I am sure my memory is getting worse, even at the age I am. I believe Google is partly to blame, or rather, my constant reliance on it. I am relying on my diary to make sure appointments and deadlines are not missed, and I do not know anyone's number off by heart - bar my close family, probably. That's quite normal, but I never remember directions until I've done the trip several times, and I fail to remember where I can find info all the time, other than from Google's data. Yes, your memory gets worse as you get older, but I shouldn't be this bad just yet. (I just googled for that link.)
Related to that, my general knowledge is pitiful. Gone are the days I can reel off capital cities. I just Google it. And because my computer or phone can tell me the answer instantly, my brain's realised I don't need to remember it. Same goes for the appointments mentioned above, in a way: it's written down, therefore I don't need to remember it.
I've noticed further cognitive changes over the last couple of years. I have met a lot more people in the last couple of years (compared to the rest of my life) and it sometimes takes a while for me to remember faces and names. As Cracked says, there's almost a 'first come, first served' process going on in your brain for registering and remembering your friends.
The worse thing is the lowering of my concentration levels and attention span. When I was a teenager, albeit with not many local friends, no pocket money left after I'd blown it on CDs, and my only transport being my bike, I spent hours reading. I'd come in from school, do my homework, mess about a bit, but then read all evening (when Friends wasn't on). I've even missed dinner before, from being engrossed. Nowadays, I'm lucky if I get a few pages in before my concentration ebbs and sleep advances. Work has knackered me out sometimes, sure, and there's more to my life than I had when I was 14, but I don't have the stamina for hours, even days, of reading that I used to. The internet, social media, and increased computer screen use has no doubt affected this. I now read more blogs per week than I do books in a year, sometime even skim reading, and Twitter and texts make my ability to read longer pieces even worse. The skill of reading is not an instinctive one, like speech is, so I worry one day there will be no need for 120,000 word novels.
What's also sad about this is the loss of hours as a child exploring Encarta 96 on CD Rom or poring over pages of the Encyclopedia. My future kids probably won't be able to spell the E word as they won't have a need for it. Big old reference books provided hours of curious fact-filled fun (yes, I was a geek), but also, a bond between siblings. Sure, you can share links or photos on social media with your family, but there was nothing like fighting over which section of Encarta to play sounds or hunt for images in. To this day, I can recite the opening poem/song to Encarta. Ok, shouldn't have admitted that... Incidentally, Encarta was discontinued in 2009, and even the replacement Microsoft online dictionary closed in 2011. I guess the unstoppable rise of Google and Wikipedia put pay to that.
I haven't even touched on how Google is making us lazy and unsociable. Remember the days of 'word of mouth'? I just do a quick online search for a new dentist or a zumba class when I move into a new area.
Google has become almost an extension of my intelligence. It's a side-effect of this age of convenience. I don't need to remember or even know things anymore; I just need a weak internet connection for instant access to the world's knowledge. Dial-up sufficed, in years gone by! (Remember this comforting noise?)
To an extent, this is fine. I have enough to remember and know about life: taking my lunchbox to work, house things, special dates, appointments El Husbandio is likely to forget, the day job etc. etc. Why should I fill my (extremely!) limited brain capacity with remembering which city is the capital of Peru when Google can tell me in 0.37 seconds?
However, there I've been experiencing further symptoms of Google induced thick-ness. It's a step further than simply not bothering to think or remember.
I'll give you an example. A while back, I had an issue with my digital camera. I couldn't reset it. What did I do? I put a call out on Facebook for help, tagging my techie mates in to the post. One astute friend came back to me in seconds: she said "Google it".
Duh. No idea why I hadn't done that in the first place. Google is making me so thick I have, at times, not considered even using it. Argh!
So what am I doing to try and combat 'Google Brain'? (Damn, I thought I had that term coined, but no, it's a project on AI Google are working on.)
- - Before I Google something, I take a few seconds to properly think - do I know this already?
- - I'm going to try to cut back on unnecessary multi-tasking to increase focus
- - I plan to try to read on my lunch break - practice!
- - Some non-fiction books will be added to my 'to read' list on GoodReads.
- - I will try to read more news and news-type magazine articles/blogs to stretch my comfort zone in online reading
Have you noticed how much you rely on google? Leave me a comment so I know I'm not alone!
Read about Google's history here, if that's your kinda thing.
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Born to be a Tourist