38. Google Is Making Us Lose Our Memories
When is the last time you had to memorize a phone number or email address? Was it before you started using Google? Before search engines, we routinely had to learn information or write it down. Many of us had to learn to memorize our home phone numbers, emergency contacts, and addresses in elementary school, which was a common safety issue at the time. Parents carried physical photos of their children in their wallets in case they became lost. These functions are now easily replaced by saved cloud data and a smartphone, which even many young children now possess.
Now, we are so reliant on search engines that we are losing our ability to recall information. We are more likely to forget information if we can look it up on a search engine later. While the physical processes of creating and retaining memories may not have permanently changed, the way we interact with the need for memory is so drastically different from the measurable changes. The need for long term storage, especially of complex sequences of numbers, such as phone numbers, simply isn’t a necessary skill for most people in our current technology era.