Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Losing Our Minds

There are so many stories/studies telling us how the internet (and your smartphone) is changing the way we think.

How many phone numbers of your friends can you list off right now, without looking?  Annie (my partna') doesn't know mine, though it has been the same since we started dating 8 years ago.  (I know hers, because I like to memorize things.)  I have to go back to my middle school days to remember a time where I knew all of my friends' house phone numbers.  (I remember not having to differentiate between cell phones and land lines.)  For some reason, I feel like I even knew my closest friends' addresses.  That is certainly not the case anymore.

My aunt just moved from IL to FL.  When I called her during her long driving trip, I realized her home phone number is going to change.  I've had her house phone memorized for as long as I can remember.  It might have been the first number that I memorized.  Will I have the next one memorized at all?  Or will it just be a number stored in my phone that I reference on occasion?  I have to look up my mom's address every time I mail her something (she's moved since I lived with her, but she's been in the same spot for a while).

I used to memorize license plate numbers for all of the employees at Walmart when I was in the parking lot pushing carts.  It kept me busy, and it was fun to practice memorizing things.  I knew all of my credit cards, too.  Now I couldn't tell you my own license plate number, nor could I list off my drivers license number (though it has half as many characters as the one in MI that I can still recite).  I don't think I'm old enough to start claiming memory loss, but I do feel like my memorization has lost its edge.

Also, due to my persuasive skills, I used to be an amazing argue-er.  I was a great person to have on your side at the bar.  Between my breadth of random knowledge, my book knowledge, and my mad bullshit skills, I was fairly good at convincing people I was right in the midst of most arguments.  Now, arguments are settled almost instantly by googling.  How can I argue against an immediate, definitive answer?

It's hard to defend memorizing multiplication tables to kids when they'll have access to the answer at their fingertips for the rest of their lives.  There used to be a debate on when calculators should be introduced into a math curriculum for young students, but isn't that point moot now?  We should teach them how to use technology immediately, since there's not much need for memorization.  Heck, WolframAlpha can lead you through the steps to do some of the complex math (like trigonometric integrals) that I have trouble remembering from high school calculus.

Is this good or bad?  Will it matter in the future?  Regardless of the pros and cons, do we really have any power to change it?  Will the smart kids lose their advantage in life?  Will the more creative or the more risk-taking members of society become the leaders?

Or, am I just losing my mind?

Trying not to lose his mind,

No comments:

Post a Comment