Has Technology Made Us Stupid? (Or is it just me?)


I want to begin this post by saying that I am one who absolutely loves technology. I have been a huge fan since the Atari and Commodore 64 days. I remember sitting for hours punching code into my old Commodore just to make a small box float across the screen. The Atari joystick had one, big, red button…how hard can that be? Now, I can speak to my Xbox 360 and make it do almost anything I want. It is remarkable to see how much technology has improved over the years.

Back when I was thirteen or fourteen, my Dad and I mowed grass for people during the summer. One of our customers was a man who worked for Zenith. He used to entertain us with stories of a television that would one day hang on the wall and be as thin as a picture frame. That was back in the 80′s. Oh, how we would laugh at “that crazy old man down the street”.

Now I can’t even remember anyone’s phone number. All I have to do is find their name, touch the screen, and we’re connected. Pretty cool, but yet somehow terribly sad. I can hear a song on the radio, put my iPhone next to a speaker, get the name of the song and a link to purchase it on iTunes. (Now that part is just cool, not sad at all.) I even have a credit card reader I can plug into my phone to accept payments with. That comes in handy when I go to someone’s house and work on their computer.

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What prompted me to write this post is an incident that happened a few weeks ago. My family and I were driving to the small town in North Carolina where I grew up, and where my wife’s family currently resides. We have a Garmin GPS that shows the speed at which we are traveling and also the current speed limit. I will occasionally glance at that and not pay much attention to road signs.

Well, the one thing I didn’t realize is that it does not adjust for construction zones. Yep, you guessed it. I was cruising along at 70mph (thinking the speed limit was 65mph, because that is what my trusty navigation system indicated) and got pulled over. Only then, did I realize we were smack in the middle of orange barrels and heavy equipment on the side of the road.

To my dismay, I received a charming little ticket for driving 15mph over the construction zone speed limit. We were at least an hour and a half from home, so I knew there was no way I would make it into court. And, it’s not as if I could use the “GPS made me do it” plea. The ticket cost me over $400, but that’s not even the worst part. The postman delivered a delightful notice, from the DMV, which informed me that my license had been suspended for one month. Oh joy.

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I’ve been driving since I was fifteen, so you can imagine how hard it was to go an entire month. Getting my license back felt as if I had been released from prison.

Technology has improved our lives in so many ways. Has it also made us not so smart? Back in the day, we had to rely on brainpower and ingenuity to get things done. Now, we just have to make a phone call, push a button, or speak into a TV that is hanging on the wall. Like I said, I’m a huge fan of technology, but I’m starting to think it might be making me stupid.

Chris Martin



Categories: Technology

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112 replies

  1. I have long felt that introducing computers into school for learning purposes was a mistake, because it takes away from the reasoning process that students would otherwise need to go through. Some of the best minds in our nation were educated in the 1900s.

  2. Thanks for following my blog (http://clarklent2012.wordpress.com/).
    I’ve been testing software for 30+ years. and I also see a tendency to let our own observations and judgement go out the window when using various pieces of software. And some software is even written in a condescending tone, like it knows best. If the author of the software was sitting next to us and giving us the same advice, we would have other cues that would alert us to start ignoring the jerk. Perhaps our devices need more body language? :-)

  3. Firstly, thanks for following my blog. This post caught my eye because for awhile now I have been reading up on the science behind this. If you are interested to learn more you should pick up a copy of The Shallows by Nicolas Carr. In short the brain will make new connections with each experience and the more we repeat or focus on this area, the stronger the connection. It can also delete areas that are unused to make room for that information we need because we pay more attention to it. Say you can’t remember how to spell a word: all you need to do is wait for the auto corrector or type it into Google search. We have so many apps that do a lot of the work for us so we no longer need to remember. There’s something called an iDisorder which mimics the symptoms of ADHD and addictive behaviour. There was a journalist who talked about having a type of freak out when she was away from her phone, like a drug withdrawal. I was born with ADHD so I try not to get too addicted to technology because it will make my ADHD worse. And I have noticed that people around me are more impulsive, brash, forgetful, and inattentive. It’s really sad what is happening because there’s something else dark happening to the social networking generation: they are being deprived of face to face interaction and are becoming…well, do I really need to explain it? Adolescents and young adults are just rude and unempathetic. I feel more comfortable befriending people 10 or 20 years older than me. If you want more info on that check out Against the Machine by Lee Siegel. I have autism and ADHD and I don’t want my symptoms to get worse. While I am improving people that were not born with these disorders are regressing. The brain never stops changing. Everything we do effects it.

  4. I remember when I first saw a program on TV showing how “one day” we would be able to cut and paste text on a computer. As I was writing on a portable typewriter back then, this had me transfixed. Oh, I so hoped it’d be true. Now, of course, it is, and more so. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to go back to those typewriter days. All those re-writes, just to change a bit of text around! Makes me shudder. I don’t think I’d be published today – I’d still be typing and re-typing.

    I agree with you, Chris, things are so easy today. We forget where were “were” and we would be lost without what we have. Not sure about “stupid” (or “lazy”), but dependent, ooh yes. I’m hugely grateful to have been born when I was and to be able to take advantage of the technologies of today. :)

    Cheers!

  5. I don’t think “stupid” is the best fit, but maybe less imaginative. Mind you, I very much appreciate the automatic spell checking on my phone each time I blog or respond to a blog ;-) God Bless!

  6. Many thanks for sharing! This is most profound and very relevant!

  7. very interesting piece. saying technology makes us stupid is like saying money makes us greedy. we sure get lazy due to much reliance on technology but there are other aspects of our psychology that it sharpens and enhances. imagine what your two year old kid can do with your home gadgets, it takes some intelligence and mental effort that would otherwise not be used were those technologies to be unavailable.

  8. If I was a text book then your story is one case-study from my life. Now times what’s happened for you by 10, and well that’s me. I use technology in my car to give me feed back on my driving. It let’s me know when I accelerated to fast, put the breaks on to heavily or took a corner F1 style. When the feedback from this little gem of technology that sits on my dashboard starts to sound like a nagging wife, then I know my medication is not working or I’m fatigued and should stop..either take some medication, or call it a day. I have a GPS and a Military quality Geolocator (one with an augmented reality interface) because these technologies assist me to live a bit safer, find my way around, and locate my car in a 800 vehicle car park… Unfortunately for you this time around, your technology failed you and you’re right can’t be helped, your accountable and have to take it on the chin and wear the fine. Yes it sucks. My driving record sucks too… But no technology doesn’t make you stupid. There is no scholarly evidence to suggest this is the case. I might be off target here, but I dare to say that by maintaing technology that assists you to have a better quality of life means that you can get what you need out of assistive technology if you maintain it, read the instructions, and be proud that your an expert on what works for you….Oh dear my Navman GPS maps are 6 months out of date I need to take my own advice and update them…they include those up to date orange cone locations your talking about.

  9. I have refused to buy one of these navigation programs, even though I am one of the worst navigators I know. I even manage to get lost in places I’ve been before. I recently even bought new street directories. I have a bad experience with one of these devices heading to my friend’s dad’s funeral and we ended up arriving late and after much frustration with the device being passed from person to person trying to work the thing out. That was a few years ago when we were all unfamiliar with this technology but it did strike me at the time that if you stop reading maps and letting a machine tell you how to get where you want to go, your navigational skills are only going to get worse. Once you again an understanding of how neural pathways work, it confirms this. You don’t use it, you lose it. Persisting with navigation has made me a better navigator and with the arguments I’ve had with my husband in the last 12 months alone, it would certainly justify resorting to this technology but what will happen if I have to find my way around somewhere new and there isn’t a gadget and my already challenged navigational “skills” have deteriorated? They will be needing to send out search and rescue just to get me home from the shops.

  10. Reblogged this on A Leap to Change by DL CLOE and commented:
    Enjoyed reading this – I had to laugh about

  11. Lesson learned: don’t get lost in transition and watch the road. Will share your post:)

  12. Maybe someone has already written what I’m about to write, but there are just to many comments for me to read them all, sorry ;).

    I don’t think technology makes us stupid. I think it’s perfectly natural that people feel that way though, because every change brings fear, fear of something that is new or life changing (or in this case even changing the world!), and not knowing what things will be like up ahead.

    Remembering phone numbers is not the ultimate use of our brains (it’s not long ago that we didn’t even have phones) so I don’t think that’s a cause for concern unless you lose your phone and need to make an emergency call. To be prepared for that, maybe learn your spouse’s or your mom’s number… In this age where information is at our fingertips, we are becoming increasingly smarter at finding information, knowing where to look for it, sort through it to figure out the piece we need. Anyone who is not used to technology would be completely overwhelmed by the incredible amounts of information that we process each and every single day. They would think we were super smart! As we get better and better at doing this, we adopt new technology even easier. Who reads a manual these days? You just turn it on and figure it out!

    As far as social relationships go, I don’t think we need to be so scared of technology in that area either. I don’t know a single person who has traded real life contact with other people for sitting at home with Facebook. The difference is that we can stay connected with a larger number of people thanks to modern technology, more than we could maintain in “real life”. I think of it has having many pen pals, all over the world, people that I simply wouldn’t have time for if I couldn’t do it via Facebook and Twitter. “Well those are not real friends” I hear people say. Why not? Would it be so different if I sat and wrote to them on a piece of paper, sent it in the mail, and they received it a week later? (I tried that back in the 80′s and 90′s when I didn’t have any other option, and you know what? I was too lazy to keep doing it! So technology is not to blame for my laziness because I would just not keep in touch with people at all if I had to do that much work ;). Social media, texting, email – its the same thing but with the added bonus of pretty pictures and instantness!

    So in conclusion, no, I don’t think technology makes us dumber or lazier. We are who we are.

    • When the printing press was invented, there were the same dire predictions that we would lose our powers of memory and descend to ape-level. Instead we got the Reformation, the Enlightenment, democracy and the industrial revolution.
      Take your pick. Drudgery or progress.

  13. Chris, You and I have similar thoughts regarding technology.
    I was just thinking yesterday that my cell phone and iPad have more stored or accessible information than I will ever accumulate my brain. I have been a ‘ham’ (W5TID) amateur radio enthusiast since I was 12 and here over 64 years later still one. When the digital age came into being it was a natural transition to move there with it. The concept of ‘time’ has always fascinated me as you can see from a couple of my blogs. Good meeting up with you Chris..

  14. I love technology for the opportunities it affords us to connect with one another and to share thoughts and ideas (kind of like what we are doing with these blogs). But I agree — inordinate love of technology does threaten us with stupidity. I think the trick is finding a way to make technology supplement and enhance the world of human interaction (with other human beings and with the surrounding world, as you alluded to in your Garmin example) rather than replace it.

  15. I also agree. And I would prefer to dial a button to make a call. That is how I remember my family’s contact number. :-D

  16. I enjoyed reading this article. Yesterday I saw on tv a smart camera, I chuckled and said “even the camera to?” Everything around is smart, so I am thinking we should be smarter and the children at school should be excelling. Ha! Technology does not make me stupid but it is smartly taking our money: iphone, ipad, kindle, blackberry. Do we really need all these gadgets, honestly sometimes they intimidate me.

  17. Where is the love it button?! Great post!

  18. Hi chris, Cheers for the follow by the way, appreciated.
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks this, its like a debate I have with people over the kindle (I know thats how you sell your books) but I hate that people don’t appreciate real hand held paper books anymore, sure its good for the environment but why does everything we use have to be electronic.

  19. I love this post! Sometimes people near and dear to me get mad because I don’t keep their phone numbers in my phone. The reason for that, I tell them, is so that I memorize their phone numbers–and if I’m ever without my phone, I can still get in touch with them. They don’t buy it. LOL.

  20. Hey there, great post! I share similar thoughts about this. Another thing to add is that technology has made us impatient too. Everything is getting faster and faster, we start losing our ability to wait! :/

  21. You know, I have had increasingly similar thoughts about technology. I definitely feel it is “rewiring” our ability to pay attention.

  22. We’ve been arguing for a while about this. Just yesterday I applied for a job-but it was an automated application process. The space allowed for my cover letter was so ridiculously small I could barely say anything. Technology is dumbing us down in so many ways it’s frightening.

  23. Yes, sometimes I think it’s a bit scary how much we rely on technology nowadays. Reminds me of that Calvin and Hobbes comic where Hobbes is telling Calvin about this movie where machines take over the world. C is liked yeah, that’s scary…. WAIT what time is it??? My TV show is on!!!!

  24. I wouldn’t say stupid, but I would definitely say lazy. But then again, sloth is the mother of invention.

  25. Great thoughts, Chris, and you made them fun to think, as well. Thank you for visiting and following my home-spun little blog. It’s always great to make new friends.

  26. Yes, I think technology makes a lot of people stupid. Try calling Verizon to inquire about something on your bill and have the “customer service” person read back to from her/his computer screen exactly what’s on your bill. Aghh!!!
    Thanks for folloing my blog http://www.steppingintothewater.wordpress.com.
    Marisa

  27. I work for DOT which has noted a nationwide trend. The Millennial generation is not getting driver’s licenses. They’re riding the bus a lot. I tend to think that’s a consequence of student debt and an economy that has them under-employed, if they can find jobs at all. They can’t afford cars. I think that’s the stronger reason. However, AASHTO experts say it may be because they are so wedded to their iPhones and netbooks that they can’t be bothered to drive. In other words, technology is making us dependent — dependent on it, for sure, but also dependent upon others for transportation, entertainment, etc., because accessing those items on our own would require we put down the technology. So I vote that technology is making us lazy, not so bright, and dependent.

  28. The phone remembers numbers and Facebook remembers birthdays. I worry more for its impact on social relationships more than all-round intelligence. I love technology but I wish there was a dedicated day (once a week? once a month?) where everyone goes on a tech detox.

  29. I so agree. I heard kids don’t know how to write anymore. I still enjoy a hand written card or note through the mail, fast becoming a lost art

  30. See I don’t think technology makes me stupid — it just makes me feel stupid (and old!) I liked the simplicity of playing atari, now there are so many fancy-pant buttons I don’t know how to retrieve what! Since starting my blog and my year of mercy work, by far the biggest challenge for me has been the technology. Consider yourself blessed… while mercy me! I am just stressed :)

  31. The TV remote has given me undocumented ADD :) But I do love my iPhone lol

  32. In your case, I think technology has made you wiser. I am certain you won’t make the mistake of relying on it so completely next time. By the way, I like that you are able to say “Have a Blessed Day” even after a large fine and a licence suspension.

  33. I’m late reading your entry; therefore, someone else probably stated what I’m about to say. Technology is improving which I’m totally grateful for. If you look back a few years ago, from then to now, technology has beneficially advanced in the medical and work industry. However, personal technology can only make a person stupid if he or she allows it. Technology is here to aid us, and not to be completely relied on. That’s why it’s important to keep a balance between technology and just simply using ours brains. Interesting post.

  34. I’m late reading your entry; therefore, someone else probably stated what I’m about to say. Technology is improving which I’m totally grateful for. If you look back a few years ago, from then to now, technology has beneficially advanced in the medical and work industry. However, personal technology can only make a person stupid if he or she allows it. Technology is here to aid us, and not to be completely relied on. That’s why it’s important to keep a balance between technology and just simply using ours brains. Interest post.

  35. Interesting post! I definitely agree with some of the comments already posted…technology isn’t making us stupid, but its most definitely making us lazy and less reliant on the use of our brains….how ironic that I was only made aware, by autocorrect, that I spelt one of the words in this comment wrong…

  36. I’m not sure it’s made us stupid as such, it allows us easy access to lots of information, so it could make us smarter. I think we are far too reliant on technology. If I didn’t have a Sat Nav I’d struggle to get anywhere that was further than about 20 minutes from my home.

  37. I so agree with your post!! I’ve noticed that about myself and google search. If for and reason I want to know about something, I search it and within minutes know enought information. When before, in my younger days, I actually read about the topic and the information stayed.

  38. Well you certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons. :-)

  39. A double edge sword to be sure. I don’t think it has made us stupid as much as overly reliant. I was in high school a pseudo Luddite. Now I have to laugh because my life is filled with techno shtuff. I make a living through computers, most of my art is, in some way, digitally connected and my phone is a life line. I only need remember that I am the master and it is to serve me. A computer, after all, is only a dumb plastic box until I tell it what to do.

  40. Thanx for stopping by my site and signing up to follow me. I hope you continue to find it interesting, amusing and entertaining. I’ve had a look around your place, and I’m sure I will.

  41. I haven’t read all the comments so I apologise in advance if I repeat things. I don’t think technology makes us stupid, in fact sometimes figuring out how to use the damn things requires an IQ of 200, I think it just makes us lazy. My bone of contention is when people use their GPS for local journeys, journeys that they’ve done a million times and could probably drive it whilst asleep (although I wouldn’t recommend it). So what do they need the GPS for? I also think it a bit sad that people don’t know how to read maps anymore. It’s a dying art.

    • Love this post I think heart to heart communication is a thing of the past. Technology has robbed us of some of the nuances of communication that are important! But…I’m a Baby Boomer…that remembers having one phone in the house and we had a ‘party line’! About the GPS…I thought these things were ridiculous until I moved from Arizona to Kentucky and had no idea where I was…still don’t! They come in handy now and then!

      • I agree with you about the communication thing. I say this with a giant hypocrite sign on my head because everyone who knows me knows that if they want to get in touch with me the quickest way is by email.
        I do sometimes worry that nuances can be lost in electronic communication, especially as I am a bit cynical and sarcastic, which may offend people. But that’s what smiley faces are for :)

      • Just how many letters/notes/missives/monographs a day did you used to write in The Good Old Days?
        Or let’s say a month, to make it easier. Leaving aside greetings cards and cheques. Jus how often did anyone put Pen to Paper for amusement and recreation?
        The Bloomsbury Set, and their tribe, I suppose. And the contributors to Mass Observation and a few teenage and public school diarists, but that was about it. A tiny minority of the population.
        I’m depressed top see such a body of opinion so nostalgic for that appalling state of literary dysfunction. And so blind to the truism that Practice Makes Perfect.

  42. HAhaa! This is incredible! It is definitely NOT just you! I’ve wondered this so much, I decided to start a whole blog about it! THank you for your visit :)

  43. I have to say technology is making us all… a little less bright. Take spelling, for example. I happen to be an obsessive speller and I crave learning new words. At work, I compulsively get asked how to spell certain words, when a cell phone or computer doesn’t recognize it and auto-correct it. Back in the day, people would check a dictionary, but now it results in mass confusion if auto-correct doesn’t guide us into literacy!

  44. A pair of my kids visited over last week and some longtime friends just left us today. Your post is so apropos because this topic was discussed at length with both kids and friends. Of course, we’re the older set and have a tendency to bury our heads in the past over certain issues…but, then, what’s so unique about that? Each generation carries forward their built-in biases and preferences.

    Both guests, kids, my wife and i were all united in our thoughts. We felt the recent election bore truth of technology dumbing down, or, at least. ‘lazying’ down our willingness (or need) to be better informed about what’s happening in our world. Without making this too political and confrontational, we just felt like some people, young and old, depend too much on a text message, a clever website that possibly deceives, cryptic phrases that hide some truths, in short, too much web time for developing their belief systems…and not enough hard research into what could be best for our country.

    No sour grapes! My man didn’t win! I’ll live with that. It’s my hope that we can find our way back to where the founding fathers wanted us to be, and it’s my prayer that we can stop repeating the same mistakes that history gave us. Technology has given us so much, yet it has taken some very important things away. Don’t want to make this a ‘post’ in itself but that’s my basic take on your important question…There is ‘wealth’ in our technology but there is also ‘deprivation.’

    • “There is ‘wealth’ in our technology but there is also ‘deprivation.’” Again, mere dogma. Unlike previous methods of distributing information, instant verification of a claim is possible. The process is no longer the province of the leisured or professional classes, as opposed to those dependent on the line peddled by the corporate, profit-driven media. The individual production, distribution and exchange of information is now a reality, and that changes everything. Those who claim they are dumbed down by the internet simply aren’t using it properly (for whatever reason) or are averse to the ways it will change them.

    • Who cares what the founding fathers wanted? They’re dead, and they couldn’t even picture what life would be like 300 years in the future. We should do what is best for the present and future, regardless of what it has to do with a bunch of long dead slave owners had to say about it.

  45. All these new things coming out that supposedly help us, like the car that beeps if you’re about to hit something or someone when you’re reversing, are just making us careless. What ever happened to using our senses?

  46. So true. I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore!

  47. Ha…funny hubby and I were talking about the GPS and technology while driving around the other night. He made a point to say that we really do rely too much on technology and Forget to back ourselves up for when these tools/toys fail us. He said I couldnt get around without the GPS (hes right Id be totally and utterly lost) and didn’t know how to properly read a map. Long story short He is teaching both myself and my girls how to read and follow a map! lol (sounds crazy but I know hes right) sorry about the ticket.

  48. I always think about this, I don’t know how I would survive without my trusted iPhone and google! I don’t even remember my husbands mobile number it is that bad!! Technology is an amazing thing but it is certainly making us LAZY aswell as a little stupid lol Great post! : )

  49. I don’t know if I’m any stupider, but I’m definitely overly dependent. I use my iPhone to map out to the minute my subway ride to work every morning, and God forbid, Google Maps gets it wrong. I’m running late.
    I also fondly remember my early high school days when I could remember by heart all the numbers of my “crushes” and best friends. I still remember some to this day.. Now, I don’t even know the number of the guy I am dating :-/ (In my defense, it’s only been a few months haha)

  50. I agree that we have become too dependent on technology. I just returned from Africa where they had nothing, but were so happy and CALM and so friendly. They got by just fine without all the gadgets that we have. We always want the NEXT BEST THING, always want more. We are a society of instant gratification now. I just wait for the day that something happens and no one will know what to do or how to spell. Now, I mean this is the most sincere, nicest way possible. What actually concerns me more about this post is not that you relied on the GPS and ignored the signs, but the fact that you didn’t notice orange construction cones around you until you got pulled over. To me, hearing something like this where people are driving and putting others at risk by not paying attention to their surroundings, is more of a danger to us than our dependency on technology. Not paying attention to signs is one thing, but not even noticing a construction zone, that is just irresponsible driving.

    • Just for the record. This is only the second ticket I’ve had in 24 years of driving and only the first time my license was suspended. (Knock on wood) It was very strange in the area we were driving through. At first glance, it didn’t even appear to be a construction zone. Once we were stopped, we noticed the barrels and everything sitting back off the road quite a ways. I don’t feel my driving was putting anyone at risk. I am an excellent driver. What I don’t like, is seeing people rip by going 90 and they probably never get pulled over.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment,

      Chris

      • I am glad to hear no one was at risk. I agree about the 90… the expressway cops never seem to be around when they are needed.

      • The relevant reply buttons seem to have gone missing, so I’ll have to reply at the top of the comments.
        “they had nothing, but were so happy and CALM and so friendly. ” Is a patronising view of Africans. The Happy, noble savage. Without the ‘worries’ of the modern world.
        In fact Africans are as keen to seize the potential of technology as others are keen to sneer at it. They can see the obvious benefits while the pampered consumer world agonises impotently and wallows in dreams of a simpler world when everything was nice and we were cleverer. Which is nonsense.
        Collectively, our brains have probably never been as active as they have been in the last 5 years. You can’t allow people to become their own TV stations without it radically expanding their scope, and altering their sense of identity.

    • Africa? Which is progressing in leaps and bounds from servitude and corruption on the tide of the digital revolution.
      Your benevolent view of Africans as quaint innocent savages is going to be shaken. Even the Masaii tribes are using mobile phones to better organise their lives.
      http://littlerichardjohn.blogspot.co.uk/2007/01/africa-sans-frontiers.html
      You may not appreciate the power you now have, but others do.

      • “Your benevolent view of Africans as quaint innocent savages is going to be shaken.” I didn’t see anyone say that. I’m sorry. Who was this comment directed to? I can’t tell.

      • Caryn
        November 13, 2012 at 10:09 am.

      • I do not see them as savages. I am insulted by your accusation. I spent three weeks teaching kids and immersed in the culture. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to go back. Have you been? I am not denying they are progressing in leaps in bounds, and most people I encountered did have cell phones (not modern but circa early 2000′s) but having a phone doesn’t mean they are advanced or reliant on technology.Most families did not have a TV or computer in their home. They don’t have A/C. I could go on, but my comment wasn’t about Africa. I was simply saying that they do not rely on it like we do and they get by just fine and in fact are much more friendly and happier than we are as a society.

  51. Completely agree with you on this! We have stopped using our God given brain and enlisted our smartphones in place of it!

  52. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the follow on my blog at http://storybookster.wordpress.com
    I’ll be putting many more reviews up soon :)
    Technology – ah yes. It has helped and hurt, depending on how it’s used. I was born in 1950 so should be one of those people with no idea how to use technology, but I have to confess that I love it.
    I had the first Pong game, lol. Loved atari and also spent hours programming an Apple IIC to make snowflakes fall down the screen :)
    I was on the internet as soon as you could GET on the internet.
    But apparently all of the social networking can be harmful if you are too dependent upon it. I was reading an article in a magazine recently that showed graphs showing how people’s brains had actually changed by being addicted to the internet. These are those Type A people who have their cell phones/Ipads, etc, next to them at all times and everytime they hear that chime, have to grab it and check it.
    Technology can be a double edged sword. If you use it wisely, it’s a tremendous boon. If you indulge too deeply, it can actually change who you are.

  53. Oh, I TOTALLY agree!!!! And it really is sad. SMH…our brains don’t engage anymore…we have whatever we need atthe push of a button – no thought required.

    • Sorry, but that is such rubbish. And speak for yourself, if for anyone. How much stupider have you got since you started using the internet?
      Speaking personally, I know for a fact that my communication skills have improved immensely since the advent of broadband. And all thanks to those who were all too willing and able to correct me when I was being an idiot.
      As for other skills, such as the visual skills I need, they have also been sharpened and tempered in the forge of social interaction.
      Hermits don’t win prizes.

  54. I think technology is great, for the most part, but it does make us a little lazier. My phone is my lifeline and I don’t know what I’d do if I needed to “remember” someone’s phone number. Can we say nightmare?

  55. I couldn’t agree more. Technology has not only made us stupid but it also given us the illusion that aren’t stupid because a stupid person wouldn’t be able to look up directions to the nearest Stabucks on their smart phone.

  56. Technlogy in general, no hasn’t made us stupid. But GPS has made us stupid regarding navigation. People can’t read maps anymore. I have seen people who have driven to destinations for years. Know the best route and all the turns. Give’m a GPS and they are gonna follow that thing regardless if it takes them all over the place.

    GPS has ruined the art of navigation.

    Stay bearded my friends.

    • But in places like Queens, where they have the same number applied to a street, avenue, boulevard, plaza, circle, etc, I don’t understand how anyone got anywhere. Add in frequent one way streets and an inability to stop in the middle of traffic to consult a map. . . Or that if you check the map before you leave, then all of a sudden the interstate is closed and they detour you, but then don’t put up a sign telling you how to get back ONTO the interstate (true story, about 8 miles of wandering after the trooper assured me it was clearly marked), GPS can be a life saver. Also it lets you know where you are, which is a prerequisite to a map being helpful. Just sayin’, it’s got a place and a purpose.

  57. Now I am totally the opossite.I do not like tehnology.I only have a cell phone because I work nights and he made me get one for safety.I would rather read or go for walks instead of watching tv or playing on my computer.I carry my portable battery operated radio around to listen instead of our fancy stero.My dream place to be is out in the woods luving in a cabin with thousands of books and the wildlife.The heck with techno.Want to get hold of me?Write me a letter or come to my house.Just saying.Love you brother.

  58. Hi Chris!

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for the follow! It is much appreciated. My husband and I were both raised in eastern NC, near Greenville, and I am also a child of the 80s! I have mixed feelings about technology. I am a technology junkie, but I do agree it has made us quite lazy. But that doesn’t keep me away! Ha! I look forward to reading more from you. You can also find me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/redvanramblings and my twitter handle is @joellhmorris. Would love to have you follow me there as well. Blessings!

    Joell

  59. I agree some technology makes us lazy and gives us the excuse/permission to “do other things or nothing” when we should be focused.
    Shame about the ticket and suspension, tough place NC.

  60. Sorry for the ticket, but it will remind me to pay closer attention.. LOL I agree with the ones who think it is just making us lazy… Children are not always taught to theorize or transfer knowledge…. so it’s either that, old age, or the dye has reached my brain… LOL :D

  61. I wonder if it’s true that the human brain concentrates on one thing at a time and it’s not necessarily the most important thing like keeping ourselves, alive while driving? I just wait for an authority to realise that I’m driving, listening to Anthony Robbins and also looking at a Garmin. Would I notice if a pig flew over the sky? Probably not. I would only notice if it invaded my personal space and hit me! What am I concentrating on? A bit of everything. Is it enough to keep me alive? Am I taking a risk? If I had to drive without entertainment I would expire from boredom.

    I must say that $400 is a lot of money. The UK government doesn’t charge that much although to people from somewhere else, they might make an exception. Suspended licence? Only if inebriated or driving while banned. What do they do in your country/state if you drive while banned?

  62. “Has Technology Made Us Stupid? (Or is it just me?)” Since you started using social media, have you become better at arguing your case, or worse? Have you learned that if you post garbage, a lot of people will make you look like an idiot, and that therefore you’d better be able to back up your claims? In other words, have you learned the journalistic and legal techniques of confirmation and verification? Of course you have. Social media activity is based on good old fashioned Peer Review. It is a giant workshop refining the communication skills of everyone who uses it by trial and error and ridicule.
    Quite soon in many countries, an actual majority of people will be using written words for amusement, which is a first in human history, with consequences we can’t yet predict.

  63. LOL, this is so true. I feel the same way and I don’t know anyones phone number ( I keep a small notebook just in case) but I would be so lost – frightening!

  64. I agree with others that technology hasn’t made us stupid, but our people skills have deteriorated as a result of social media. Maybe in that sense, we have gotten stupid when it comes to interacting with others.

  65. in answer, i have a comparason.
    it is said that eye glasses make sight possible for those who have difficulties seeing, but make seeing more difficult for those who have sight.
    if one has only a slight difficulty with focus and clarity, glasses may ‘fool’ the lenses for awhile, but they adjust and get worse with age and the eye muscels get lazy not having to work so hard, creating a condition where the eyes get worse with glasses not better.

    not a perfect comparason, but there are some ‘glaring’ similarities to be ‘seen’, yes?
    -mike

  66. I have always felt technology has made us both stupid and lazy. Being able to order online means you don’t have to get off the couch. One big pet peeve I have is the autocorrection on phone now-a-days. You can text or type and your phone will automatically add the marks and correct most spelling for you. Then most papers now have to be typed in school. To me, it makes the “writting” classes, most of us took in school, worthless. You don’t have to remember those things and people tend to forget.
    I am one that loves and hates technology. I work and most is done from my phone. However, when I text or email, I don’t use short cuts. I still love to write letters and mail them the old fasion way. Technology might be very useful to today’s world but it has caused many other activites a lost art.

  67. I too enjoy technology, but I am concerned that it takes away from our connections with other humans. It feels like we are connected to more people around the world, but at the same time so disconnected. I think that we need to find a balance with technology.

  68. I think technology is totally changing the way our brains work. For those of us who grew up without it, the laziness is a behaviour that our brains have learned recently, and in theory should be able to snap out of easy enough should we try or need to. But for kids growing up in this world now, I’m not so sure… My friend is a high school teacher and she says the kids not only lack attention or memory span (why bother when you can google it?), but an ability to think in more than 2D: most of them can’t take information learned in one subject and apply it to another, they can’t make connections outside the box or understand how something in the past affects the present. Pretty scary, huh?

  69. i think we have a vast capacity for stupidity regardless of level of technology, also we equally have vast capacity for wisdom. blame not & choose as well as possible and don’t go where the huskies go and dont you eat that yellow snow. cheers.

  70. I have largely mixed feelings about technology. If it weren’t for the internet and laptop computers, I’d never be leaving this comment right now. Besides that, I’ve found technology an invaluable tool in the world of writing. However, I do feel that technology has this way of tainting the minds of our impressionable youth. Kids today know that they don’t even have to pick up a phone to order a pizza (let alone run to the pizza joint itself), just make a few clicks online and it’ll be sent to their house shortly. I worry that things have become so much easier with technology, that if in twenty, thirty, or even a hundred years, all our electronic friends were to fail us (due to EMPs or whatever, anything), today’s younger generations would be lost. Think about how many times a day you use something that is run off electricity. It could be anything from a microwave to a tablet or even an electronic toothbrush. If you were to count, I bet you’d be surprised. I often yearn for a simpler world. I worry about what all this technology is doing to us, both mentally and dependence-wise. I think I could easily live a self-supportive life without technology or electircity, like farming, cutting our own wood for heat (which we already do), making our own supplies and all home-cooked, fresh grown food. It would be difficult to adjust, but I can write with a pen and paper just as easily as I can on my laptop (sort of, it’s faster on my computer). However, I would be devastated if my laptop quit working right now. So much of my work and my life is saved to this complex little machine. Without my computer and without the internet, I’d be hard pressed to come up with an idea that I know enough about to write about it without research.

  71. Yep, that newfangled technology called writing has definitely made people stupid. You can’t even get them to memorize the Iliad any more. They write it down and read from the parchment, lazy fools! — Anonymous, circa 500 BC.

    Nowadays, we look on anyone trying to memorize 24 books of poetry as engaging in a stunt, not a useful exercise for the memory, and certainly not an essential one for our culture. Part of what you’re describing is what Toffler called “future shock,” part of it is just the difficulty in adapting to new technology, figuring out its strengths and weaknesses.

    About 20-25 years ago, I traveled all over the state I lived in. I had to keep four street atlases in my car. I found out two things. 1) Street atlases are incredibly inconvenient at the edge of pages. 2) Not every street on the map exists or can be used by a regular passenger car. The atlases certainly didn’t give me best routes, speed limits, or automatically generate alternative routes when I made wrong turns. And sometimes, sometimes I even got lost.

    So we’ve exchanged the faults of one technology for another. Me, I’d vote for GPS.

  72. Hope it’s ok to put this here, Chris, but I feel it fits with the ethos of your site. I wonder if you might be happy to spread the word about this idea, and maybe offer thoughts on it. It’s to help people at Christmas and you can check it out HERE
    Thanks in advance

  73. We are not more stupid, or more lazy, just different. Now we don’t remember phone numbers – but we are aware of the entire planet in ways we never were because we’re connected. We just have different abilities because the world has changed.

  74. technology can bring people closer together, it can also alienate people. It’s like money or bullets; double edge sword. Now, with gps, it sorts of leads to people (me inclusive) not looking at maps or street directories when trying to locate places.

  75. For me personally there’s not a concrete answer to this since we all use technology for different reasons. i guess it just simply depends on the person-some of us are more “vulnerable” than others so they fall under the influence of technology and decide to it for entertainment, rather for stuff that actually make sense.
    Like for example-the majority of my classmates use any kind of technology just for entertainment- for school, instead of searching for info to help themselves with essays, they listen to music, go to various websites on the Internet and get addicted.
    I dare saying that many of us have forgotten to read book(you know the joke-those big things, you can find in the library or bookshops :D ) and sadly, the situation’s getting worse. :(
    So to answer your question-not only you think like that. :)

  76. I think technology is more distracting than anything else. For instance, right now I’m supposed to be doing homework but instead I’m commenting on your blog because I saw the link you posted on Twitter haha. Technology is good, but it’s definitely not a bad thing to take a break from it every once in a while to clear your head. I was in India over spring break where I couldn’t use my cell phone. After I got home and picked it up again I kind of had to wonder why I mess with it all the time. Now I have to make reminders on it all the time so I won’t forget to accomplish certain tasks. It’s as if we’re on sensory overload sometimes…

  77. This is sooo true! I can barely remember anyone’s phone number anymore! x

  78. SO true! I used to remember birthdays, phone numbers, appointments, etc. with ease. Now when someone asks me to do something for me I tell them to send me a text :-(

  79. I have mixed feelings about technology. I think it has made us a bit stupid yet we have to be pretty smart to figure out these things that make us stupid. It is a little embarrassing when my kids know much, much more about new technology than I ever could.

  80. I’m so glad that James and salestt reassigned stupid to lazy because I was right in there with you and feeling really bad about my tech self. Now, I still feel bad, but I think I can fix lazy by being more aware and thinking.
    Been a tech freak since the late 60′s. I HAD to have that first calculator from Texas Instruments. It was huge, plugged in, and only did the four basic functions, but I was hooked! (haven’t added or subtracted since–ha–not really–taught middle school math back in the day when students were not allowed to use calculators)

  81. I wouldn’t say it makes us stupid, but maybe not as focused as we used to be before we got all this fancy stuff.

  82. When I was ten my grandmother lectured me about my spelling. She did that often, and my handwriting. I told her, “when I grow up there will be typewriters that will spell for me.” I took a typewriting class as soon as I could and I still can’t spell. But what the heck I have spell check. My only trouble comes when my spell check program can’t even guess at what word I’m trying for

  83. Sad to hear you had such a crap moment with your license…. I’ve learned not to trust the speed limit either and I argue with it all the time on roads. ;) Sometimes I think the technology has taken my multi tasking personality and pushed it into ADHD. Relying on paper and pen and a basic to-do list sometimes is the online way I can stay on track, put it in Outlook? I’ll be off the beaten path for days.

  84. I love technology, but I think that we rely on it too much. We miss out on all the wonderful things around us. Instead of going outside, we sit at our computer. We talk or text while we are driving and could very well kill somebody or wind up dead ourselves. I could go on and on, but I think that technology has turned us into a very bland bunch of people.

  85. With respect to your customer’s prediction of a flat-screen tv, when I was a high-school freshman in 1975, a classmate told me there was a machine called a Betamax coming out that would allow us to record tv shows on a tape for later viewing. I poo-pooed him and dismissed his prediction as the result of being jacked up on science fiction. I also remember the first time our eighth-grade math teacher used a handheld calculator in 1974. We all gathered around him as if he were a wizard from another dimension.

  86. … Not becoming overly dependent on technology is the key i.e. be aware of your surroundings and gut instinct.
    Tech and instinct still work hand in hand my friend :)

  87. GPS devices have a lot to answer for! Don’t ever trust the speed limit they show as they’re notorious at getting it wrong :( Always travel with an old-fashioned map too – they break down!

  88. Not stupid, just lazy. Or as Professor Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery) said to this son (Harrison Ford) in the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989), “I wrote it down so I wouldn’t *have* to remember.”

    • Yes, I would agree with previous comment by James, tech made us lazy, not stupid. Smart and lazy, this is the issue. Do you realize how many really smart and complicated things we learnt while investigating and trying to understand all the innovations? :)

Trackbacks

  1. Technology is making us stupid – smarter – dumb – clever « ruleofstupid
  2. technology and multitasking – where has common sense gone? | myspokenheart
  3. Has Technology Made Us Stupid? (Or is it just me?) | MBM

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