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Fuel for Thought

Do You Remember?

By Greg Huggins
Posted Mar 10th 2020 4:01PM

Studies show that smartphones have made people dumber. Studies have also shown where this is not true.

While some studies seem to point to smartphones and the internet for the dumbing down of society, is it really the culprit, if it is even true?

Many of us growing up had encyclopedias in our homes. So much knowledge at our fingertips just waiting for someone to pick up one of the volumes and start reading. Many of us have fond memories of researching facts in a series of paper books long before the internet was commonplace.

Years ago the telephone was a fixture on the wall or table that when it rang, you had no idea who was calling until you answered it. Better yet, when you wanted to call a friend or relative, you dialed or pressed each digit of the number you wanted to call, either from memory, a written list or phone book. For most of the people we knew, we memorized their phone numbers.

How many people today still own sets of encyclopedias? How many phone numbers do you have memorized?

For many, this would point to a dumbing down of people who no longer memorize facts and phone numbers, however, this may not be the case at all.

Nowadays when we want to research something, many people turn to the internet instead of the encyclopedia. When we want to call someone, we just select their name in our contact list and hit the send button. Does this make us dumber?

Before we had encyclopedias in our homes, we might have used the local library to research, but more often we relied on our elders to tell us the “facts”. Historical “facts” were told to us with stories that seemed to change with every retelling of it, but the encyclopedia, with it’s written account of events, did not change no matter how many times you reached for that volume and thumbed the pages.

While we used to remember phone numbers for everyone we knew, was that really the best use of our brains? 

We didn’t become dumber when the encyclopedia set arrived in our homes, so how could having that same info available at your fingertips via the internet? Memorizing strings of phone numbers that are likely to change might be good brain exercise, but couldn’t that valuable memory be better served by learning new facts and ideas?

While many say that technology has dumbed down our society, consider all the advantages we now enjoy due to technology. 

We may reminisce about days gone by, but were the ”good ol’ days” really better? Or do we just think differently today?

Having technology to almost instantly find answers to our questions may not be a reason to say we are dumbing down society, but rather it frees up our minds to innovate. We can research nearly any subject to spur our thinking to develop new products, improve current products or find better processes to replace outdated inefficiencies.

Just because we don’t remember the things we once needed to recall, doesn’t mean we haven’t learned new ideas.

See you down the road,