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(Guardian)   Is our smartphones making us dumber?   (theguardian.com) divider line
    More: Awkward, Brain, Hippocampus, Cognition, Psychology, Human brain, Memory, Cognitive psychology, internet use  
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362 clicks; posted to STEM » on 06 Jul 2022 at 2:09 PM (5 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



19 Comments     (+0 »)
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2022-07-06 1:07:38 PM  
As far as memory, I don't remember the last time I had had anyone's phone number memorized. Not since college.

It's not making us "dumber," it's just freeing our brains to remember and focus on other things. I presume there is only so much brain power to go around. I mean, hell -- just look at cable TV news.
 
2022-07-06 1:11:14 PM  
I think the one thing that Idiocracy got right was the gradual dumbening (yes, I know) of our species really coincides with all this technology doing everything for us, the fact that we don't need to read anything just "youtube it" and all of the political discourse in now memes and Twitter bullsh*t...

Rarely can you tell me someone who has read some 20-30 page policy statement on the economy or the environment... we base everything off what someone can vomit on TikTok or type onto Twitter...

We're dumber because we're f*cking lazy and condensing everything when sometimes we have to actually take time and think about stuff.

There's no going back, though. So, just find a way to live with it.
 
2022-07-06 1:14:36 PM  
It's not the smartphones.
 
2022-07-06 1:17:18 PM  
No. But rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?
 
2022-07-06 1:31:01 PM  
*Its
 
2022-07-06 1:35:22 PM  
Yeah, I'm sure it has absolutely nothing at all to do with our defunded-to-hell public education system, and has everything to do with those kids and their smartphones, and bubble gum.
 
2022-07-06 2:00:16 PM  
 
2022-07-06 2:42:50 PM  
The bell curve is pretty much the same shape as it always was.

Technology isn't making people dumber. It's giving the stupids a much louder voice and the benefits of connecting with like-minded dimwits.
 
2022-07-06 2:49:00 PM  

PirateKing: The bell curve is pretty much the same shape as it always was.

Technology isn't making people dumber. It's giving the stupids a much louder voice and the benefits of connecting with like-minded dimwits.


Pretty much this. Once upon a time, the internet, and all associated technology, was dominated by nerds. With proliferation of the technology, we're just now seeing how persistently stupid people can really be.
 
2022-07-06 2:55:49 PM  
No.

People do not bother to memorize things that it's functionally not necessary to memorize, and they do not refer to harder-to-access information sources or storage techniques if they have ready access to easier-to-access sources of comparable validity.

Your smartphone won't "ruin your memory" any more than keeping a notebook or, say, having your spouse remember dates and times for you would.  My own grandfather "lost" the ability to remember phone numbers and track dates by memory in the farking 1940s when he married a woman who insisted on keeping all the household's records herself, and the field-effect transistor hadn't even been invented yet.  He was damned good at remembering certain kinds of technical data for air navigation, though, because... well, he had to for his job.  You get good at remembering things you need to remember, and bad at things you objectively do not need to remember for any practical reason.

None of this is new, special, or especially ominous.  We got a version of this in the 1400s-1600s with the adoption of the printing press and spread of literacy, to the point the Pope made ex cathedra rulings that literacy was a sin if you weren't ordained and the church lobbied to make printing either the bible specifically or just everything in general outright illegal across Europe... and succeeded, in many places.

Most people would hold that literacy has been a net good for the world over the ensuing historical periods, at least generally speaking.

// Admittedly the Christians were more worried about the whole "won't access harder to access sources of the same information if they have a more convenient method" than the memory thing, realistically, but they certainly used the memory ("mental and spiritual degradation") thing as one of the excuses.
 
2022-07-06 2:57:42 PM  

Jim_Callahan: No.

People do not bother to memorize things that it's functionally not necessary to memorize, and they do not refer to harder-to-access information sources or storage techniques if they have ready access to easier-to-access sources of comparable validity.

Your smartphone won't "ruin your memory" any more than keeping a notebook or, say, having your spouse remember dates and times for you would.  My own grandfather "lost" the ability to remember phone numbers and track dates by memory in the farking 1940s when he married a woman who insisted on keeping all the household's records herself, and the field-effect transistor hadn't even been invented yet.  He was damned good at remembering certain kinds of technical data for air navigation, though, because... well, he had to for his job.  You get good at remembering things you need to remember, and bad at things you objectively do not need to remember for any practical reason.

None of this is new, special, or especially ominous.  We got a version of this in the 1400s-1600s with the adoption of the printing press and spread of literacy, to the point the Pope made ex cathedra rulings that literacy was a sin if you weren't ordained and the church lobbied to make printing either the bible specifically or just everything in general outright illegal across Europe... and succeeded, in many places.

Most people would hold that literacy has been a net good for the world over the ensuing historical periods, at least generally speaking.

// Admittedly the Christians were more worried about the whole "won't access harder to access sources of the same information if they have a more convenient method" than the memory thing, realistically, but they certainly used the memory ("mental and spiritual degradation") thing as one of the excuses.


This fear actually goes alllllllll the way back to Socrates. 

Socrates legit thought that books would ruin peoples' ability to remember things. 

The only reason we know that, is because Plato wrote it down.
 
2022-07-06 3:03:20 PM  
The only detriment I have gained is remembering only the phone numbers from my childhood that I don't really use anymore, which isn't really a detriment at all, really.
 
2022-07-06 3:19:02 PM  
In a sense, yes, smartphones and so on are definitely messing with us. TV did as well. But so do books and so does everything - it's been said that music is the closest thing to a drug you can get sober, and there is some truth to that.

More important is the question of what it is impacting and whether it's important. I do think smartphones can have a negative impact on social interaction, but as a big reader I can say that so can newspapers or books, and TV can also dull social interaction.

On the memory aspect - in societies before writing, often there would be specialists trained to memorize and recite the cultural foundation. Myths and history and laws and everything. Beowulf, the works of "Homer", parts of the Manyoshu and Kojiki, and perhaps most notable of all, the Vedas, were all kept alive this way until writing came along (and the practice of memorizing the Vedas in Sanskrit still exists from what I understand).

Nowadays, this is a more specialized skill that musicians use - if you find someone that takes requests and can play hundreds of songs, that's the skill. But tradespeople and engineers also often have encyclopedic memories, for completely different tasks, as do delivery drivers and cab/uber drivers for street networks, and so on.

I do think smartphones have made it harder to learn these skills, just because the everyday practice of memory is less important. I am not sure everyone needs to have that level of memory, and I am sure that type of skill is still very alive in certain settings.
 
2022-07-06 3:25:20 PM  

Samfucious: Pretty much this. Once upon a time, the internet, and all associated technology, was dominated by nerds. With proliferation of the technology, we're just now seeing how persistently stupid people can really be.


... if you think the internet in the '80s/'90s was a utopia of erudite analysis and good takes I have some really, really bad news for you.  Like, to the point your post makes me assume you were born in the late 1990s at the earliest because no one who was around could possibly have that opinion.

You're talking about BBSes and the height of humor and insight being shiat like goatse.cx and Something Awful... honestly the average ranty twitter thread about how (((they))) are trying to trick you with a fake pandemic to distract you from the fact that the earth is actually flat is basically farking Shakespeare compared to most of that era's internettery.

// Oh, god, I just remembered Tucker Max being a thing, the early internet doesn't even have a high horse on MRA shiat.  This is why anyone with nostalgia for the '90s especially is a goddamned liar.
 
2022-07-06 3:41:57 PM  

Jim_Callahan: None of this is new, special, or especially ominous.  We got a version of this in the 1400s-1600s with the adoption of the printing press and spread of literacy, to the point the Pope made ex cathedra rulings that literacy was a sin if you weren't ordained and the church lobbied to make printing either the bible specifically or just everything in general outright illegal across Europe... and succeeded, in many places.

Most people would hold that literacy has been a net good for the world over the ensuing historical periods, at least generally speaking.

// Admittedly the Christians were more worried about the whole "won't access harder to access sources of the same information if they have a more convenient method" than the memory thing, realistically, but they certainly used the memory ("mental and spiritual degradation") thing as one of the excuses.


In many churches, there was also a fear that if the lay people could read the Bible themselves, they might realize that the pastor had been distorting its message for political gain.  That was why, after Scotland went through its Protestant Reformation, they started a mass-literacy campaign in order to (try to) prevent such corruption in their newly-reformed church.
 
2022-07-06 4:04:48 PM  

Jim_Callahan: No.

People do not bother to memorize things that it's functionally not necessary to memorize, and they do not refer to harder-to-access information sources or storage techniques if they have ready access to easier-to-access sources of comparable validity.

Your smartphone won't "ruin your memory" any more than keeping a notebook or, say, having your spouse remember dates and times for you would.  My own grandfather "lost" the ability to remember phone numbers and track dates by memory in the farking 1940s when he married a woman who insisted on keeping all the household's records herself, and the field-effect transistor hadn't even been invented yet.  He was damned good at remembering certain kinds of technical data for air navigation, though, because... well, he had to for his job.  You get good at remembering things you need to remember, and bad at things you objectively do not need to remember for any practical reason.

None of this is new, special, or especially ominous.  We got a version of this in the 1400s-1600s with the adoption of the printing press and spread of literacy, to the point the Pope made ex cathedra rulings that literacy was a sin if you weren't ordained and the church lobbied to make printing either the bible specifically or just everything in general outright illegal across Europe... and succeeded, in many places.

Most people would hold that literacy has been a net good for the world over the ensuing historical periods, at least generally speaking.

// Admittedly the Christians were more worried about the whole "won't access harder to access sources of the same information if they have a more convenient method" than the memory thing, realistically, but they certainly used the memory ("mental and spiritual degradation") thing as one of the excuses.


Fark user imageView Full Size


Indy: "Well, what are they?... Can't you remember?"

Henry Sr.: "I wrote them down in my diary so I wouldn't *have to* remember."

When I watched this at age 10, this exchange puzzled me. By the time I was in college, I completely agreed with Henry. If it's important, write it down somewhere, somehow.
 
2022-07-06 4:17:01 PM  
Better remember at least 3 close family and friends phones numbers.
 
2022-07-06 4:30:56 PM  
they be
 
2022-07-06 6:55:56 PM  
I think the way to answer Subbie's question is to check who many comments in the Poltics tab come from mobile browsers.
 
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