Sunday, 11 March 2018

Fight now or remain dumb forever!

We need to consciously fight back the dumbing down effects of technology on our brains!
It has started to happen. Increasingly one sees people fumble to remember names, and then check phone lists in a panic.
It goes like this… You refer to someone who is, let’s say, an author. You stop because the name is mysteriously escaping you. You look up and left (a sign of tapping memory) or close your eyes (my way to recall), fumble a bit and then whip out your cell phone with an embarrassed and panicky look. A few clicks and scrolls, and ahhh… of course, here’s the name! How could you have forgotten?
Sounds familiar? I bet it does. And I bet your phone list is organized according to a person’s profession or company to aid memory. For you have realized that though you may forget a person’s name, you may still recall what he or she does, or in what context you met them. So in your phone list you will have categorized people as Doctors, Journalists, Ambassadors, Bankers, Beautician, Sabziwaala, Tailor, Massage lady, Spa, Maid, Driver, etc.
Human intelligence and attention spans are going for a toss as our reliance on cellphones and the internet increases. We are becoming poor thinkers and our brains learning to be lazy. We do not need studies to prove this, though several studies have done so. Just ask yourself – How many numbers have you committed to memory? Do you recall your children’s cell numbers? Your mom’s? Do you walk into a room and forget what you came for? Do you get so distracted by the beep of your cellphone that you miss bits of a conversation?
Cell phones are wrecking our memory. It is scary to think that human memorization may become obsolete in the near future! Digital amnesia, as it is termed is a critical problem already. The memory capacity of younger generations is degenerating. Our short attention spans don’t allow us to properly form and retain memories as we tend to treat devices as the external hard disks of our brains.
Before the advent of smart phones we were proficient in navigating our way around the city. Today technology navigates for us. We used to remember birthdays, important meetings, seminars, talks and family occasions. Today we rely on reminder tones to get us going.
Technology keeps our brains underutilized by giving us quick information and keeping us distracted. So our thinking tends to be superficial and unprocessed because of the next beep that demands attention. So, the obvious way to counteract the dumbing effect of technology is to keep our brains working and engaged.
  • Keep away the cell-phone for a few hours every day as a discipline.
  • Consciously try to memorise things, even if car numbers during your drive.
  • Look around while driving and try to memorise landmarks and names of streets rather than be distracted by your phone!
  • Play games and puzzles that aid memory and keep the brain active and thinking.
  • Do not sleep with your cellphone!
It is worrisome to imagine what will happen once facial profiling comes of age! Will we start forgetting faces too? Will we need to scan a face with our mobiles to remember who it is? And of course with the added advantage of being then able to find out everything else about them –  their age, favourite colour, food they like eating, their choice of entertainment and family information!
What then will be the difference between humans and robots? It is a scary future we are beeping our way towards unless we consciously keep fighting to stay above the water!


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