“In 100 meters, turn left”
“Your destination is on your right”
Is it? Why can’t I see it! Where in the world is this place? …and now my phone is dead. I’m doomed!
– Do you need help?
– Oh! Yes, please, do you happen to know a restaurant called Pink Elephant?
– Sure, it’s right there!
Does that sound familiar?
Reminding myself that before Google maps, I used to find my way following simple directions, makes me feel embarrassed! I hate to admit that I have become too dependent on my smartphone. Without it I sometimes feel a body part is missing!
Before the invention of maps, man would navigate using their sensory perceptions. The map helped us understand distances and view our surroundings in a more abstract form. Similarly, the clock, helped us perceive the concept of time with precision. Printed press allowed us to collect information in one place, training the brain to concentrate on one thing at a time. In the article titled “Is Google making us Stoopid!” Nicholas G. Carr argues that the above tools have trained the human brain to be concentrated and efficient, while the internet and the smartphone do not seem to have assisted our brain’s evolution in the same manner.
There is no denying that new technology gives us access to endless amounts of information, however, our brains are not equipped to process and store all that information at the same speed. According to Mariano Sigman, neuroscientist, “the working memory is very narrow and limited and vulnerable to interference”. As such, the way our smartphones and the internet bombard us with distractions, not only lowers our concentration but also intervenes with our ability to store information efficiently.
If indeed, we still value deep and analytical thinking, it is
time we found a way to filter out some of these distractions, to allow our
brain’s concentration and creative abilities to strengthen. Perhaps being more
conscious of the quality of the information we feed our brains with, and
filtering out the unnecessary, may be a good start. Let us not allow our
smartphones to outsmart us, but to use them as the tools they were meant to be
to improve our lives.