Recently, I applied for a job titled Cognitive skills trainer, which is basically a person who trains another person to think quicker and better, so to speak. The interview proved to be one of the strangest ones yet, asking me to read colored coded words as fast as I can while the interviewee screamed different colors and words under the sound of a very loud clock. The process was to see how I did under stressful and distracting situations. Additional tests were given and they continued to be stranger and harder after each one. I am quite certain that they will probably not offer me a job but rather ask if I can be one of their clients. After that interview, I have noticed advertisement for brain strengthening and brain longevity everywhere. I am beginning to think I was brainwashed. I have not seen the spokesperson for this brain workout like Jane Fonda was for the body workout explosion in the 80’s, but this area has definitely peaked my interest, and has aroused many questions as to why we need these brain workouts. I can’t help but think it’s because we are relying too much on technology and our brains are turning into mush.
I am very old school when it comes to technology. I am pretty sure I was one of the last individuals in the United States to own a cell phone and have a Facebook account, but even I know the advantages of modern technology. We live in a world that technology is becoming second nature to us. I have noticed that I am starting to shed my old technological devices like snake skin and replacing them with smaller and more advance devices. I never thought I would rid my land line, but I do not see any use for it anymore. My cell phone has become my right arm and I feel naked if I leave home without it. However, I also see many negatives to the advancements of technology and that is we really do not have to think anymore. Our phones hold all our contact information, schedules, directions, and can calculate any mathematical question. If we have any kind of question about anything we can do a simple Google word search and that question is answered. We are well passed the days where real research consisted of actually reading and thinking about what we read and answering questions. One of the biggest issues today in high school and colleges is plagiarism because it’s so easy to cut and paste and bedazzle the words to make it sound like your own. So, maybe the need to “exercise” our brain is becoming a necessity like working out any other part of our body.
Many people do not realize that writing was once considered a technology, and like many of the technologies we see today there was some reluctance to using this new invention of writing. Plato, a Greek philosopher during the 4th century, for example, advocated against writing because he felt that it would decrease our function of memorization even though he used this technology to record his thoughts and opinions. I guess even Plato saw the advantages of technology, but warned people of what they may loose by relying on writing too much, and he stated: “If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.”