Saturday, April 5, 2008

Brain Drain

I can feel myself getting stupider. First went my handwriting, now the ideas behind it are vacating too.

Like, seriously. As each day goes by, I can literally feel the knowledge I've accumulated over the years draining from my brain. When Google asks me "Did you mean . . .?" my answer is far too often "Yes." and with a quick click, I meander on down the information superhighway. What has happened to me? I used to be the top speller in my class, I used to store dozens of phone numbers, at the ready, in my head. Birthdays, postal codes, state capitals, historical tidbits. My brain was once a great resource.

Really it's an access problem. We have too much information at our fingertips, so we start storing it in our computers, rather than our heads. Why remember something when you can dial up Wikipedia and get the answer (however suspect) in 30 seconds or less? I forget how to spell because that red line shows up under a series of letters I've mashed out on the keyboard. With a simple right-click, we can replace our errors and get on with life. It's faster and easier than knowing in the first place. Efficiency has replaced intelligence in almost every instance.

While I feel immense guilt, regret, and shame about this, my real concern is for the kids growing up today who don't even know the difference. They don't know a world without Google, let alone the helpful "Did you mean?" option. I've heard, with my own ears, teachers say to students, "Spelling doesn't count." I like to think they are attempting to encourage creative writing, without the hangups that come with grammar and punctuation, but I think it's more about the spell check. Teachers have come to terms with the reality of the situation. Why try to teach them things they might never need to know? For the sake of nostalgia? We've always evolved, our education system following the needs of society. At some point keyboarding classes retired the typewriters and started using computers. Eventually that class won't even exist, as kids will learn to type in utero. So, perhaps spelling shouldn't count.


I used to take great pride in knowing stuff. As time goes on, I take pride in vaguely remembering I once liked knowing stuff. Someday I'll have to ask my computer if I like anything at all.

1 comment:

  1. Here's scary for you:
    I recently recieved a lovely invitation in the mail to a birthday party for my two year old cousin. I diligently transfered the pertinant info into my outlook express calendar and waited for a friendly little reminder to pop up. When the time came, I trundled off to buy a gift. I was running late and parked illegally thinking I would only be a minute...Naturally I got a $30 ticket to add to my $40 gift! Aggrevation set aside, I headed off for the party. When I arrived, I knocked on the door and found my little cousin and her parents getting ready to head out for a walk!
    The party is tomorrow. What screwed me up is that Saturday and Sunday share a box on my calendar.

    What's really scary is that I did THE EXACT SAME THING last year.
    God help me.