When I was in primary school (age dot to 11) I was one clever cookie, I had a real thirst for knowledge and I was smart. I reached secondary school and I was still pretty brainy, but I felt I started to drop. Now I’m not accrediting this to a phone, I didn’t get my first smartphone until I was around 16, but I think the ease at which we can find information now is potentially damaging to our brain. The muscles I used when I was in the midst of learning aren’t being worked as hard, they don’t have exams anymore nor do they have deadlines or essays to write. I am not challenging myself mentally and as a result of that I am most definitely growing lazy!
This weekend I bought a book called ‘A Little History of The World’, it’s simply a history of the world in brief but creatively written summaries. I have been looking for a book like this for a while now, comparing different non-fictions to find one that would best suit what I needed. This one seemed to fit the bill, and it’s fab! It’s given me a new interest in learning again and knowing about the world around me. After reading this book I intend to focus in on periods in history I find particularly interesting and educate my brain from there. But as I started this book I realised my ability to retain knowledge and my attention span has significantly reduced. I’m suddenly having to reread sections as I realise I got distracted mid-page or I simply can’t remember something from a previous chapter.
This worried me, I didn’t use to be like this and I didn’t like it. After some research about smartphone usage and the effects on the brain, I think mine is certainly having a negative affect. In a world where information is at our fingertips are we actually required to figure anything out for ourselves anymore? If I want to know who an actor is in a film then I won’t stare at them for the length of the movie, I’ll look them up on IMDB. Similarly if I want to know the year of a battle or the rein of a monarch, I have google.
Nothing is left to our brains to figure out or remember anymore, the work is done for us. I think there’s a certain disappointment in that, it is the want to find out things that inspires passions to know more. If I can just have this information on my phone whenever I want to, then what makes that moment of reading about something new and learning new information so special? I like that I could sit down with a few text books and put together the information I have learned, but maybe I’m old fashioned?
Now don’t get me wrong, I can completely see the merit of a smartphone, I am not saying they aren’t a useful source of information and I am happy to have mine to use whenever I need. I just think they are limiting our potential and ruining our brain’s memory muscles, we no longer need to retain the same information that we used to.
More than this, we are now using our smartphones as if they are our an attachment of our body. You see people walking around attached to their phones, social media, facetime. It is a never ending stream of eyes glued to a lit up screen when you’re on a train, walking down the street, at a concert for christ’s sake. We as a collective of smartphone users are addicted, we don’t look up and see what’s in-front of us and I don’t think we know how to change that anymore.
A video I watched spoke about how we use our phones to fill time where we could be just appreciating the world around us and enjoying a moment to ourselves. Do we actually notice our environment anymore or those around us who want to socialise? Did you know that 58% of smartphone users can’t go 1 hour without checking their phone, I think we’ve forgotten it is okay not to be immediately reachable.
An addiction is defined as ‘not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.’ Could your phone cause harm to you? Is it stopping you from forming social interactions, looking at the world around you, learning new things, using certain muscles in your brain? Are our children going to grow up seeing their parents constantly on an electronic device and so think that is the way they should be too. I think we need to think about how important what we’re looking at actually is.
We need to know when to stop, we need to know when to put our phone down, turn it off and live. Do we really want to reach old age and look back to think about how often we were on our bloody devices? I would much rather remember the moments I lived in, than those I googled on my phone.