“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or is at best jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he as difficulty in laying his hands upon it” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In today’s modern age, we live with more and more information available at our fingertips. A study performed by USCD found that the average person consumes three times the amount of information as the average person of 1960 did.
This sounds like a good thing, after all, in theory, people are becoming more knowledgeable than ever. Yet this isn’t necessarily true.
First, the information isn’t as reliable. Anyone can post a blog and call themselves an expert in any field, whereas it is far more difficult to publish a book full of incorrect information.
The second issue lies in the sheer quantity. Yale Professor Edward Tufte believes the amount of information thrown at people results in a lack of organization, leading to the inability to properly use the information provided.
Finally, the information isn’t necessarily useful information. A study performed by Stanford University found that heavy multitaskers had difficulty ignoring useless information, organizing the information, and switching between tasks.
And this is just with the information technology brings us. Commodities in modern technology such as autocorrect and the GPS are also secretly hampering people’s knowledge.
Furthermore, autocorrect and automatic spellchecking have made proper spelling a thing of the past. In a study done by Mencap, a charity focused on teaching people with disabilities, nearly two-thirds of people could not properly spell words such as necessary, and those who could were often older people who are, in general, less reliant on their technology.
This is being reflected in schools as well, teenagers taking standardized tests lose, on average, twelve percent of their English score on spelling-related issues.
According to three studies performed by McGill University, usage of GPS decreases spatial navigation memory and spatial orientation, in other words, your sense of direction.
People also seem to leave their brain behind in favor for their smartphone when it comes to navigation. With stories such as the woman who ended up on train tracks after following a left turn instructed by her GPS to the old man who drove his car into a lake because of his GPS, our technology seems to be pushing our brains to the back seat.
With the Information Age, there is a vast amount of information available with just an internet connection, but at what cost, and is it worth it?