Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tell Me, Google Maps: Where is My Brain?

Last month I stayed in a hotel and on my first night, as I prepared for bed, I put toothpaste on my travel brush, ran it under the faucet, put it in my mouth and stood there. Stood there waiting for my SonicCare toothbrush to spring into action and not only brush my teeth in a way that “removes” more plaque but, more importantly, tells me, an adult, when one section of my teeth are finished and when to move on to the next area. It was probably a full 15 seconds before I realized I was on my own. I managed to do the job and do it for every night but when I arrived home I brushed my teeth immediately, because God knows how much damage I had done on my own.

Similarly, I recently yelled at my car’s dash when my severely outdated GPS told me to go down a road that is now closed for construction. And I don’t mean raised my voice. I mean screeched and came close to pulling over and abandoning the car because how the hell was I going to get somewhere without a cultured British woman telling me when to turn. Even a GPS is so old-school. Now I sue Google maps on my iPhone and a pert American girl tells me where to go (wait, that doesn't sound right). 

Also, I’m stymied by those spiky metal things people keep on key chains to start their cars. All I do is walk towards mine and once inside push a button.

It was at this point that I realized things have gone too far. Gadgets are wonderful and they make so much of life easier but where is my brain? If asked a phone number I turn to my iPhone. I do NOT know my husband’s phone number. Lists and reminders of any kind are on my Evernote app (greatest thing EVER), my ipad holds books (but don’t worry, I still read the real kind most often). Spelling? Who cares—autocorrect is everywearwhere.

I’m not going to claim ownership of this term but there is now talk (give me a minute and I’ll find it on Google, I can’t remember) of the externalized brain. In short, more and more of our knowledge is kept outside our mind. The days when someone could quote Shakespeare or recite a favorite poem? Long gone. Remember lyrics to a song? Why? I can look them up online. This state of affairs has been exacerbated by living in Oregon where even other humans are robbing me of the few mental processing skills I have left. In Oregon there are people who pump your gas. Yes, just like in the 1950s, Oregon is one of only three states that have gas station attendants. This means that, again, while traveling in my car (in the state of Washington), I needed to fill it with gas and have apparently forgotten how to do so. As evidenced by the fact that I pulled the nozzle out without releasing the handle and spilled an estimated $15.00 of gasoline onto my jeans and sneakers.

While convenience is a lovely thing what exactly is now taking up the space in my brain that used to know how to do so much?

How about you? What technology is your best frenemy?

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