Technology has seeped into every aspect of our lives. There’s an app for everything you can possibly think of, and hundreds more for things that would never occur to you.
Becoming so dependent on technology has its drawbacks. In fact, 40% of people have some sort of addiction to the internet. The obvious one is pornography, but it also comes in the form of checking your email more than 30 times an hour or constantly refreshing your social media feed.
Being, so dependent on technology didn’t just happen overnight. There are several factors behind why tech has become so invasive.
The peer pressure of what everyone else is doing compels people to constantly check Facebook, use apps to track food and fitness, and stay on social media even when it’s draining to do so.
When was the last time you had someone’s number memorized? Could you call a friend or a family member if you didn’t have your phone with you? Probably not.
One study shows that it only takes 5 hours on the internet for it to completely rewire your brain. Many people spend that much time online every day. Whether they use it for work, staying connected with friends and family, gaming, or shopping, the internet has taken over every aspect of our lives.
Depending on technology messes with your ability to form and keep memories. It also prevents your brain from developing in a balanced way. If you know you can pull something up with a few clicks, what need do you have to recall someone’s name or the dates of a specific holiday?
Having An Abundance Of Information Makes it Difficult To Retain Data
Being on the internet means getting constantly bombarded with information. 90% of the world's data was created just within the past two years. . That means there’s more information about what happened in the past 24 months than there is about the thousands of years of world history that precedes it.
There is absolutely no way you can keep up with all of that information. However, you can access almost all of it via the internet.
With all of the advertisements that scatter every webpage you visit, it’s difficult not to feel like everything is overwhelming you and clamoring for your attention.
Your brain only has so much room for information. If you’re constantly pouring in data and facts, you’re not going to remember important things like anniversary dates and appointments you have to keep.
Sure, you might think you can rely on your phone for that. But what happens when you need to store more emotional information, that you can’t easily look up? Like what happened on your first date with your wife. Or what your child’s first word was.
Relying on technology to look up information is working, so far. However, when you’re in a place where you can’t just Google whatever you have a hard time remembering, your poor memory isn’t going to be able to help you out.
Big data online also has a huge impact on our sense of meaning and belonging in the world.
Being able to access information at any time from any location often takes that data out of context. Isolating information like this makes it difficult for us to see how it fits into the bigger picture. If we lose our ability to see how anything fits into the big picture, then it’s only a few more steps before we start to wonder how we fit into the grand scheme of things.
Remembering the larger story is one of the most effective ways of retaining, the smaller details. Having the broader context helps the minutiae stick. If you can’t keep the larger story in mind, you’re likely to forget the little things as well.
Relying On Outside Sources Of Information Makes You Less Likely To Remember Things For Yourself
When’s the last time you tried to remember something before going to Google to find the answer? Constantly relying on search engines to retrieve information for us shows our brain that it doesn’t need to store the things we are learning.
Several studies have found that when people are asked series of trivia questions, they were more likely to think about Google or Yahoo.
One study found that subjects were more likely to remember data if they thought it wouldn’t be accessible later on. People don’t make an effort to store information they know they’ll be able to access at a later time.
Most of society is relying on Google as an external memory. They know that the information is already being stored elsewhere, so they don’t make an effort to keep it for themselves. Keeping information outside of yourself only works as long as the area where you store it is trustworthy. Some people can remember where they’ve stored the information, so even if they can’t remember the data itself, they know where to go to find it.
Being Constantly Distracted Prevents You From Forming Memories
Being distracted while you are trying to workforces your brain to multitask. Despite how much everyone insists that they can multitask, the human brain simply wasn’t made for it. In fact, those who think they are good at multitasking often have the least ability to retain information and pay attention to what is happening. After you’ve been distracted, it can take on average 15 minutes to reorient yourself to what you were doing beforehand.
Constantly being distracted destroys your efficiency too - it can drop as much as 40% when you have too many things going on.
The more you try to store in your mind, the less good you’ll become at processing information. Your brain can only do so much at once, and constantly being exposed to new ideas surpasses your ability to think and comprehend what you’re looking at.
Paying attention is a big part of being able to form memories. If you’re texting while someone is talking to you, it’s likely you won’t take in everything they’re saying. And if they ask you about it later on, the chances are good that you won’t be able to recount the important parts of the conversation. Then they’ll get frustrated with you and feel like you aren’t paying attention.
Constantly forgetting information is a sign that you’re too busy. If you’re doing so much that you can’t remember what you had for lunch yesterday, you might want to look at what’s on your plate.
Being able to form memories is an important part of learning. If you can’t remember what you’re studying, you’re not going to be able to build skills. This is a big deal for students who are trying to train to prepare for careers in medical, business, or political fields.
How To Improve Your Memory
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that technology is here to stay. The distractions and demands on our time placed by social media and advertisers aren’t going to stop. So how can you navigate a technology-filled world without sacrificing your memory?
The best thing you can do is avoid multitasking. Stick to doing one thing at a time. If you’re going to be on social media, then don’t try to check your emails or listen to your boss at a meeting at the same time.
If you have a longer task to tackle, do it in sprints. Give yourself 30 minutes to completely focus and work hard. You’ll find that you can complete your work faster.
Being able to finish things quickly when you focus on them one at a time will help you get to all of the other things in your day that you feel like you have to attend to. Plus, you won’t feel as rushed, and you’ll be better able to remember who you need to call and where you need to go during lunchtime.
You’ll also need to practice turning off distractions. This is where technology can become helpful. There are several apps out there that can prevent you from going to specific websites or make it impossible for you to exit out of a particular window for some time.
Schedule regular times where you aren’t online or in front of a computer screen. You might feel like you are wasting your time. However, your mind needs idle time to process and store information. By constantly bombarding yourself with data, you are undercutting your brain’s ability to process memories, and therefore making it more difficult than necessary to remember things you want to keep.
Using too much technology is a recipe for disaster when it comes to being able to remember facts and events. Try to cut down on your internet usage to give your brain a break and allow your memory forming abilities to come back