Television used to be the most powerful medium. Many people say the Internet is about to replace its throne. It’s not a surprise, given the interactive and convenient nature of the world wide web. Information, products and services from different parts of the world can be at the tips of your fingers with just a few clicks of the mouse, anytime you like. The advantages of using the internet are countless. But of course, just like with anything in this world, it also has some disadvantages.
According to a recent study, it’s possible that constant use of the internet may inhibit people’s ability to memorize. How often does it happen that when you forget about something – whether it’s an actor’s name, your friend’s birthday, or a date in history – you run to Google (or to Facebook or Internet Movie Database) to get the answer you need? Information offered in the internet has truly changed the way we remember things.
This is because of the instant access to information. Many people are now “outsourcing” their memories. Experts call it the “Google Effect”. Before, people ran to other people when it comes to topics that they are not experts on. For example, if you wanted to get some information about trends in the stock market, you went to your officemate who used to work as a stockbroker. If you wanted to know some behind stories about an epic NBA match, you went to your basketball fanatic brother. If you wanted some tips on how to cook a certain dish, you went your friend who’s a chef.
These people used to serve as the “external memory” for certain topics and issues. But nowadays, search engines are used for that purpose. Most people prefer this route since it’s a lot less hassle to type in your question in Google than to make a phone call to your expert friend who’s always busy anyway.
The more dependent we become on the internet when it comes to recalling facts, the less work our brains do in this aspect. The effect is deterioration of memorization skills over time. There’s also been a change seen in how we remember things. Before, people would remember the actual information like a movie actor’s name for instance. Nowadays, people would remember how to access that particular information such as memorizing the link to that movie data base where you can search for that actor’s name.
Maybe It’s a Good Thing
According to Neuropsychologist Mark Mapstone from the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, Google effect is not exactly a good thing for our memorization skills. However, there is one good effect and that is when we free our minds from too much information, we can have more space for processing critical thinking. It’s like moving your old-fashioned data to an external drive so you’ll have more space in your hard disk to store new kinds of information.