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Theory of diminishing intelligence

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SketchGuruWhen my elder daughter was a little over one, she would open and close the refrigerator door after every ten minutes, to see if there was anything good in it. I see the same behavioral pattern with smartphone Facebook junkies now; it has become their lives !Besides Facebook, the average smartphone today has many tools which aid you in your day to day life. You have tools which tell you when and how much to eat, how many steps you have walked in a day, the best time for reproduction, instant jokes, money transfer, keeping your accounts…practically everything under the sun. In short, with a smartphone and all the gadgets around us at work and at home, one just doesn’t have to think. Your smartphone will do it for you.

Smart phones, dumb people? As gadgets take over our lives, have we become less intelligent?

Well, various studies have been conducted to verify this possibility.  Behavioral changes are but natural; let us rewind the clock and see how lives have changed. This is what people say:

  • “Earlier I had 5 friends whom I spoke to daily. Today I have 547 friends whom I don’t even talk to in years.”
  • “When I had a bad day, I would call a select few and seek their advice. Now, I share it with 547 people”
  • “I had memorized 5-6 important telephone numbers of friends and family. Today I cannot remember anything as my brain struggles to process useless information.”
  • “Earlier no one knew or cared what I ate for lunch. Do they really care today?”
  • “Unless I wore a ring on my finger my relationship status was often a mystery to others.”
  • “Earlier when I was hungry, I ate. I do not remember any occasion when after finishing my afternoon tea, I picked up the phone to call up someone and told them what I ate and that I will be clicking a photo and will be happy to send it to them if they would like.”
  • “My mother only suspected that I was wasted on Saturday nights; now she has photographic evidence”
  • “Nobody forgets my birthday anymore.”

 

Well, while behavioral patterns might change, it is unlikely that intelligence levels of the human race has dropped over a ten years period. Look at the average children’s level of alertness and awareness and compare that to the previous generation’s childhood. Do we not keep on saying that ‘kids are very smart these days’? Evolution is not responsible for this; but rather it is the level of exposure which has gone up many times over for the new generation that makes them so sharp. New age digital media has the power to dissipate text, sound and pictures very fast and very cheap. Consumption tools like tablets and smartphones allow for such information to be consumed with increasing speed, giving the average user a much greater exposure with each passing day. The average child in an Indian city today has exposure to a much wider array of experiences from his infancy, as compared to his or her parents, thanks largely to the fruits of mechanization.

So, no way; we are not dumber in the age of smartphones. We are actually smarter. However it is important to pause for a second and realize that smartphones and the wide array of mechanical tools available to us are there to aid our decision making and make life easier for us. They are not here to take decisions for us. Once in a while, perhaps we ought to remind ourselves of this, as the world changes around us and the line between reality and imagination blurs.

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January 15, 2014 Buildings & Technology, Musings , Parthajeet

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