Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Forgot What I Was Going To Write About



Hey! This guy published a study!

He interviewed some random people in different age groups to find out about memory and aging.

When asked to state the birthday of a close relative, 87% of people over 50 could do so. For those he asked under the age of 30 the number fell to less than 40%.

Further, when asked to give their home phone number, the older group could always rattle it off, while more often than not the younger group would reach into a pocket to pull up that information on a cellphone.

My cellphone (the same model I saw last week being used by a homeless guy) can hold about 500 numbers. I stopped memorizing them long ago.

Here is a confession: I don't know anybody's email address. GMail has auto-complete in the address line and that pretty much makes sure that any email you ever get from me was only recalled address-wise for the first one or two letters. IF THAT! I can double click to pull up the whole list and just scroll!

Around our house, we frequently Google things to clarify points and strengthen arguments. I do this while on the phone, too, so if I'm talking to any of you and come up with something brilliant you can bet safe money that I just entered the perfect search term.

I email links to back myself up, as though hypertext makes me sound more intelligent.

My memories of pop culture from my youth are either refreshed or completely filled in by Wikipedia.

From a personal standpoint, I've arrived at the beginning of our cybernetic future. My non-essential memory function has been off-loaded to the internet for storage and (in some cases) processing.

Mrs. Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng has noticed that I have a phobia about being away from the internet. She is right. I do.

But my phobia is based in the very real concern that without the internet I'm a total idiot.

It has been said that outsourcing day-to-day minutiae to the internet frees up the brain to create and daydream and discover, but how often do I do that? I read books, commit the essential ideas to memory and then move on, knowing that I can later pull up the synopsis on Amazon if I need it. All the information is there, locked away in soft gray matter storage, but I've gradually lost the ability to access it without some external stimuli.

Everything we see and experience every day is locked away there, but the recall mechanisms are changing. How often do we drive home from work with no recollection of what we had for lunch until we concentrate on it? How often do we arrive at work the following morning and not remember the drive in? The minor details, though never actively in focus, combine with one another in the spaces left empty of phone numbers and email addresses to form new perceptions and to gradually change the sum of what we know.

That's okay, I guess. Using that method over the course of decades gave me the title of the long-forgotten The Day The Sea Rolled Back (Which my Dad later found in actual paper form and shipped to me. Thanks again, Dad.) through no more effort than absorbing day-to-day information and mentally marinating. I suppose that is the way future revelations will occur, not as much through laboratory breakthroughs as a subconscious and slow piecing together of disparate facts into a cohesive and relevant whole. 

I get the feeling that some people are offended at this rapid evolution in the human mechanism for memory. To those people, I recommend that you either get with the program or develop a taste for forced labor. By the year 2027, all your smug non-silicon-based knowledge and contempt will earn you is a slot in the underclass harvesting kidneys from the addicts living in the electrical sub-systems and drainage ducts beneath our massive datacenters. Come into the light. Google something. Google everything.

To be fair, my home number is a lot like my cellphone number. I like to think that is why I get them confused.



Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Garrick.

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?