Forgetfulness is a trait increasingly becoming common in the younger generation. Haleema Khalid presents the case about why it might be a direct result of our enhanced reliance on gadgets and decreased use of our own brains.

“Oh! Sorry… I forgot…”

“Well, it’s embarrassing but I don’t remember…”

“Please remind me, I often forget things…”

“Yeah, I know what you’re asking for…. But can’t recall at present…. Let me Google it.”

These are a few widely used statements among young adults in present times. Memory or recall of things that do not generally require hard thinking is becoming a rare trait among the young and it must occur to older parents, friends, and people that only a couple of decades ago, the young people hardly had trouble with this ‘memory’ thing. But there could be a simple answer to this: reliance on smart gadgets.

In the days of yore, memory was not such a hard-earned attribute, for people relied less and less on external gadgets and more on their mental muscle to keep track of themselves and things that needed to be looked after. This ‘age of smartness’ and the resources that we conveniently call ‘smart’, are quickly reducing younger generations to brain-less beings, and are most probably responsible for the ultimate forgetfulness on the part of young adults.

 

Digital Diet

From the wider social realm, this can be taken as a sample of post-modern smartness that has given birth to the ‘digital-technogen’ – a generation feeding on a smart digital diet. Every passing day brings in a new technological innovation that claims to make our lives easier and our conduct ‘smarter’. For example, socializing, which used to be an art inculcating ethics, morality, values, dignity and natural easy-going ways of adapting oneself, is now becoming extinct. These days, socializing has turned into sitting in alone in a corner with your smart phone and feasting on your friends’ timelines. 

In the days of yore, memory was not such a hard-earned attribute, for people relied less and less on external gadgets and more on their mental muscle

This digital diet is becoming increasingly visible. In schools, traditional books are being replaced by tablets. No skimming through a heavy dictionary for meanings of difficult words, no mental or written calculation to solve an Algebraic equation, no more effort to read through the pages of a book. And the question all of this raises, and should raise, is: should we be concerned to be raising a generation that is hardly in the habit of using its mind?

This question is justified, as technology keeps hypnotizing young minds and in fact hampers cognitive development. I have lost count of the young adults who are found constantly complaining about memory issues. At times, they are even unable to dig in to their memories to name the last movie they watched. It has even become trendy to not ‘remember’ birthdays, anniversaries or events, as it is something meant for our smart devices that have a ‘great responsibility’ to notify us about what we should be remembering. It is quite a feat if someone recalls a loved ones’ birthday or some other life event before a phone notification, which of course has to be wished through technological means. 

Long live the social media!

To be blunt, social media has made the task of socializing simple and easy-going, but certainly at the cost of moral and social upbringing. I wonder if it concerns someone.

 

Concerns

Serious concerns have been raised by researchers, neurologists and other concerned bodies about the effects of smart gadgets. South Korean experts have established that people who increasingly rely on technology are found to suffer deterioration in cognitive abilities, more commonly visible in patients who have undergone a head injury or psychiatric illness. Such concerns have been reported by The Telegraph in an article “Surge in Digital Dementia”, published on June 23, 2013. These concerns regarding overuse of technology worldwide and its adverse effects on cognitive development of human race have been shared by German Neuroscientist Dr Manfred Spitzer.

This ‘age of smartness’ and the resources that we conveniently call ‘smart’, are quickly reducing younger generations to brain-less beings

In line with this, Dr Kristy Goodwin, a child learning researcher, believes that pervasive use of technology is causing children to have shorter attention spans and impaired language skills.This sounds more like losing track of normality on part of present-day humans, as for the most part, normality itself has become a symbol of abnormality. If we consider general skills like reading, writing, painting, walking, and thinking, we will find that common human abilities like those above have become privileges in today’s age. 

 

Changing Order

Reading, writing and basic computing, for example, were once life skills that demanded use of mental abilities to sort things out and move ahead in life. However, now humans sit comfortably inside their luxurious technological cages, passing commands one after the other to get work done. A lot of times, humans are not even expected to think at all, but only repeat certain physical actions to get work going. It seems the space inside of humans’ head once reserved for brains has been replaced by Google.

It has even become trendy to not ‘remember’ birthdays, anniversaries or events, as it is something meant for our smart devices that have a ‘great responsibility’ to notify us about what we should be remembering

In every aspect of life in the real world, we find a struggle for making things easy. This has inculcated a major shift in the thought process of humans; an inclination towards producing and inventing technology to make things easy to process. We now demand technology to take all risks for us in conducting pursuits of life. But amidst this technological mess, we have forgotten how scary living on the further bank really is. Only after a decade, we may find that we have at our hands a young generation sans perception, sans necessary life skills and sans everything except mechanics.

Nature has a habit of taking its faculties back if they are not used. We must not deceive ourselves with technology and keep in tune with the capacity nature has provided us

There is a general concern among nations over this culture of consuming technological-diet, which in turn promotes slackness in the youth. World Health Organization statistics claim that by the year 2050, around 2 billion people will be in their 60s or above, which indicates that approximately 20% of present-day youth will be at the retirement age. And given the increasingly decreasing habit of utilizing our mental capabilities to the full, these 2 billion will have raised another generation that is even more limited in their ability to utilize the remarkable gadget inside of their heads – the brain. The humanness of humans is a natural trait; a privilege. And nature has a habit of taking its faculties back if they are not used. We must not deceive ourselves with technology and keep in tune with the capacity nature has provided us. Else, in the future, humans may even have trouble recalling their own names, without a smart gadget reminding them of so.

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