It’s a simple act that everyone’s doing: tap on a smartphone, get information, and feel smarter in the process. But what is this doing to their critical thinking abilities? What about the old-fashioned methods of pure memorization? How about taking time to ponder, reflect, and make a proper decision?
This is truly the age of electronics; and this is also the age of digital dementia. Yes, digital dementia means “resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities in a way that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness,” according to Alzeimers.net. Neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer uses this term to describe the on-going deterioration in cerebral performance in the use of short-term memory abilities. In other words, the common man is losing his ability to remember things, simple things, important facts and figures, dates and times, a simple phone number, and even his own email address.
What Evidence Supports this Claim?
You don’t have to look far for answers and/or proof. Ask anyone this simple question: Name 10 email addresses of your friends? Or this one: Write out 10 of your favorite websites? How about this one: What’s your cell phone number? Honestly, the third one they should get, but it’s becoming more and more common that people can’t answer that simple request. Do consider that people are using technology on an average of 4-5 hours per day, leaving them the opportunity to indulge in long, long hours, in silence, asking questions and getting answers without any human interaction.
Why memory loss? Why can’t we focus? It’s simple. The database of endless answers is in place. Ask Google anything, anything at all. You get answers. Football scores. Historical facts. Distances between places. Celebrities. Health news. Political news. Weather. Gobs and gobs of raw information that can be pulled from the greatest tool ever created, the greatest tool that brings everything into the palm of your hand. Where’s the memory loss, then, if all information is good? The loss happens because people don’t have to think to get answers. You ask. You receive. It’s convenience over convention; it’s lifestyle over tediousness; it’s entertainment over boredom. Thus, the decline and deterioration spells the end of critical thinking skills in people.
No wonder people can’t focus. So much precious time is spent juggling all the digital aspects of our modern world: emailing, texting, posting, Facebooking, Twittering and Googling. Even this small list could be even larger for those hardcore addicts who use technology to run and manage every aspect of their lives.
People tend to fall into loneliness and depression with these types of behaviors. Because of the lack of human connection and critical thinking, the average person looms on the brink of disaster, both emotionally and physically. In some strange way, we internalize our knowledge construction. We tend to keep things inside, rather than express; we tend to sit back in silence, rather than speak. That leaves many people overly dependent on the Internet and incapable of understanding complex concepts.
This explains why suicide is the highest it’s been, statistically, in 30 years. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age.
People, it seems, are reeling in the arms of digital dementia, but don’t really understand various solutions to the matter. These few simple suggestions may help ease the pain of electronic dependency:
- Use Your Head. Sit and think about something. Thinking is good.
- Crack Open a Book. Reading an actual book rather than a tablet has been shown to improve memory retention.
- Learn a new language. Putting you outside your comfort zone helps your brain work harder, which makes you smarter.
- Play a new instrument. Instruments require the use of both sides of the brain.
- Get physical. Physical exercise increases blood flow to the brain.
- Talk to others. Talking to strangers is a skill. Engage. Converse.
On a side note for a good read: Monthly Computer Maintenance Guidebook.