Is technology making us 'mentally lazy?'

According to a study a few years back, we as a nation have not been remembering basic information like we used to in the “old days.” Simple things like telephone numbers, birthdays and anniversaries aren’t being stored in our own heads anymore. Apparently we are relying more on our mobile phones and computers for “life’s petty information.” Sure I agree that I use my computers more these days for this stuff, but I think these studies are overblown. Instead of knowing everyone’s phone numbers, I’m trying hard to remember more important information like the name of the group that sang “Too Shy” from the early 1980s.

Upon receiving news of this medical study, I received a call at the time from my Aunt Rose from Solvang, California.

“Bobby, did you see this study?” she said.

“No, I’m not really up on that,” I replied, while keying in her phone number in my daughter’s cell phone.

“It says here even kids are not remembering their own home phone numbers,” she said, reading verbatim from the newspaper. “That’s dangerous Bobby. You and your whole family need to get off your computers and cell phones and take Memory Boost 2000. After you do that, you need to do mental exercises.”

“Aunty Rose, I know you mean well, but you still aren’t going to sell me on taking those herbal cures from the Middle Ages,” I said.

“No, this one is different. I know you have a place called Seeds and Weeds right around the corner from you,” she said. “Memory Boost doesn‘t cost that much. Go out and get it. I’ll even pay for it. I’m concerned about you because I love you.”

“I love you too Aunt Rose and that’s really sweet, but…” I said while being cut off.

For the next 45 minutes, I was treated to a lecture on eliminating electronics, meat, the sun, pesticides, noise, propane gas and just about everything else that comes into contact with me. Instead I should takes vitamins and herbs and buy organic. Sometimes I think Tom Cruise would be a better nephew.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, my Aunt Rose is a typical West Coast organic devotee. Her modest California home is a private GNC store stocked with every vitamin known to man. It doesn’t hurt that it overlooks a huge winery. I love visiting, but sometimes I feel like I’m in a late-night infomercial about how I can improve my life.

Aunt Rose‘s “Memory Phone Call” was on the heels of “The Dangers of Eating Frozen French Fries” phone call. I ended that conversation with, “I love my fries and if I want to die with one in my mouth, then so be it.”

“I’m not forgetting anything Aunty Rose,” I pleaded. “I’m fine.”

“Now Bobby, you are in your forties and you need Memory Boost,” she protested. “That’s good that you know that you’re fine, but if you take it now, it will prevent future memory loss and possibly Alzheimer’s.”

I love when Rose reads from the product’s propaganda literature. Yes, I know that she wants what’s best for her family, but if I always followed her advice, I would need an extra hour in my day to pop all the 1000 recommended pills she “prescribes for me.”

Something funny did happen to me a few years back. My daughter quizzed me on the 50 state capitals. I literally froze when we got to Maine.

“Bangor?” I asked.

“No,” she said with a swift shake of her head.

I was crestfallen about this because I always prided myself on knowing all of the state capitals.

“Honey, when I was in the sixth grade, I knew all of the 50 state capitals and the European ones as well,” I said.

“Well you don’t know them now, do you?” she replied.

Oh my, perhaps Aunt Rose is right. I’m losing it. After carefully checking out the study, it did make sense. In my case it is what Sir Paul McCartney is said on one of his CDs Memory Almost Full. Just like a mobile phone that ages, there is so much information stored in it over time, something must be purged. That is why I’m forgetting state capitals! But, the study also cites that young people are not using their natural memory to know their own home numbers. Sure that concerns me, but they are using their minds to actually program their equipment to remember the information, aren’t they?

Just when we moved on to Nevada in our state capitals quiz a while back, I stopped my daughter.
“I got it!” I yelled. “Kajagoogoo!”

“That’s not the capital of Maine!” she replied.


“No, that’s who sang ‘Too Shy’” I said. “What’s Aunt Rose talking about, I still got it.”

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