Search engines, social media and email have become our external hard drives for memory storage. We don’t remember phone numbers, addresses or anything else that can be easily retrieved. Facebook sends us birthday reminders without asking.
This shift in how we process and compartmentalize information is being called Google brain, the Google effect and digital amnesia. And there’s nothing wrong with saving your brain for more meaningful tasks than rote recall. But there is a troubling rewiring of the brain that can be brought on by relying on instant access. We’re chipping away at our ability to think deep thoughts, innovate and take time to smell the coffee.
“Nobody reads in depth anymore,” says Chapman, who holds a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience from UTD. “Google brain is constant distraction. It’s brought to us this need to be entertained with snapshot imaging. People jump from one search to the next, never stay on track and lose retention.
“Google brain is a thin, fuzzy notion of ideas but no real depth of thinking.”