“Googlified” Brains on the Internet

“If we don’t know the answer to something, our first thought is likely to be ‘Google.'”

GooglifiedThere was a recent article in Median recently entitled “This Is Your Brain on the Internet, by Erman Misirlisoy, PhD. The subtitle: “We know where to find information — we just can’t remember it anymore.” I thought the primary points were self-evidently true.

“Our internet usage has ‘Googlified’ our brain, making us more dependent on knowing where to access facts and less able to remember the facts themselves.” That’s the key sentence for me.

“The internet acts as a great aid, but our faith and reliance on it can make us overconfident in our own abilities.” I think this is why I get cranky when people say, “I’ll just Google it.” People seem to use it, not just as a helper for thinking, but in lieu of thinking.

“The internet has changed the way that our brains work. Humans have always been good at learning and adapting to new environments. So given the internet’s dramatic impact on life in the developed world, it is no surprise that we have adjusted our thinking and behavior…”

How do you know the information is incorrect if you don’t already have general knowledge already? I recently caught an error on a podcast I listen to. The announcer said Rockin’ Robin was a Jackson 5 song when I knew it was a Michael Jackson song. It was also a cover of a 1958 hit by Bobby Day. A small thing, sure, but if one were to Google that uncorrected info, the misinformation spreads.

“Researchers have used this principle to test whether difficult trivia questions automatically activate internet-related concepts in our brain. If we don’t know the answer to something, our first thought is likely to be ‘Google.’ When study participants took part in a behavioral task immediately following difficult trivia questions, their performance in that task worsened when words like ‘Google’ appeared on a screen, distracting them…”

This is why, I suppose, I am old-fashioned enough to be impressed when people I know IRL show that they can extract information sans electronic aids. Like Chuck’s team winning a national trivia competition. Or Darrin placing second in the inaugural Times Union Crossword Championship.