How to Think Without Googling

Both our attention and our memory have been affected by how much we use the Internet. There is a fomo associated with information today. With more access to 'answers' than ever, we've seemingly lost the basic ability to find focus, switching between browser tabs, devices and tasks "as often as every 19 seconds, with 75% of on-screen content viewed for less than a minute." It's now so easy to just 'Google it' that friendly arguments and trivia questions among friends that used to fill hours of conversation - list the NBA champions going back to 1987 or how much money it would take get naming rights to a building - now simply end with the answer. How boring is that, right?

Like sugar or cocaine for other parts of the brain, the internet is an unnaturally powerful stimulus for attention. It offers an unprecedented amount of information near-constantly, placing a ton of demand on a system designed to function in the small-to-medium social networks of the natural world. Information has historically saved humans from poison plants, freezing to death, natural disasters, and wedding speech faux pas (among other things), so it’s perfectly natural for your brain to want to suck down as much juicy, compelling information as possible.

This article does a nice job illustrating the challenges with internet addiction, reasons and types of memory impacted, and solutions to improve our synthesis of informatoin. Tl;dr - slow down, take your time and don't forget to smell the roses.


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