While we have no idea whether that old adage “too much TV rots the brain” is true, for those of us who Google too much (all of us) it seems we may be making ourselves less … “smrt.”
Yeah, I’ll admit it. I’m actually quite dim. Behind the know-it-all glasses and stocked library, I, like Sergeant Schultz (played by Austrian-American actor Johann “John” Banner on Hogan’s Heroes, 1965-1971), know nothing.
No, I can’t tell you who I am. Why? Well, I’ve carefully cobbled together a catalog of entirely useless Googled information which—since no one has called me out on it or Googled enough to disprove my Googling—has somehow morphed into an aura of intelligence in the eyes of those around me.
As a high school dropout, my intelligence was my weakest point. Yes, I didn’t finish. So instead of openly admitting that I didn’t know something, I looked it up. For many years, I had many answers. Some entirely useless and devoid of context, but the facts were correct and that was the important part. But it’s now to the point where admitting that I spent many years just repeating what I read on Google and that I actually know less than those I’ve corrected—bupkis even (empathetically nothing, bastardization of the Polish word bobki; “animal droppings”)—would be societal hara-kiri (or seppuku; “belly-abdomen cutting,” a Japanese form of ritual suicide by disembowelment).
Those who use Google instead of their brains will instinctively draw from that well when prompted for an answer … 30% decided to not even attempt to use their own brains before succumbing to the velveted hydra named Google.
Why the reason behind this spilling of guts? (Sorry.) Well, much like the 4-year-old who knocked over the milk, I’m owning up to my crimes in an outpouring of suppressed guilt. The telltale inadequacy. It’s the beating of that cursed heart (Edgar Allen Poe, 1843).
This all owes to a new study by presumed know-it-alls at the University of California Santa Cruz and the University of Illinois who made the connection between reduced memory and the Googling of facts, labeling it “cognitive loading.” (Although, who’s to say that they don’t do the same as those they ostracize?)
Ostensibly, those who use Google instead of their brains will instinctively draw from that well once more when prompted for an answer—so much so that of those trapped under the microscope of the test, 30% decided to not even attempt to use their own brains before succumbing to the velveted hydra (the multi-headed beast of Greek mythology, its poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly) named Google.
In the words of the gent who steered this study to the cold center of my quavering heart, Dr. Benjamin Storm:
Memory is changing. Our research shows that as we use the Internet to support and extend our memory we become more reliant on it. Whereas before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don’t bother. As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives.
Well. That’s all well and good, Doctor, but what about the human cost?
You, men of science, it’s all about the achievement, but not the lasting effects. With this study, you’ve got the full Oppenheimer-on-Alamogordo morning of my heart. (Oppenheimer: dubbed “the father of the atomic bomb” for his role in the Manhattan Project, the project that developed the first nuclear weapons used in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Alamogordo: a city in Southern New Mexico known for its connection with the Trinity test, the first explosion of an atomic bomb, and also for the Atari video game burial of 1983.)
Before you pressed the button of no return, did your finger waver above it? Did you once think “why” instead of “why not?” Did you ask yourself, “Just because you could do it, does that mean you should?”
Oh, my personality …
In the words of one George Taylor (astronaut played by Charlton Heston, 1923-2008, and leader of doomed space expedition in Fox’s Planet of the Apes, 1968):
You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!