Digital Download vs Handwritten Copy

This started as a simple rant about the irritating relationship I have with my electronic aids and their frequent failure to get me where I need to be. It has become a warning about allowing electronic devices to think for us. If you don’t hear from me again, you will know that they became aware of my attempted rebellion and squashed it!

I’m wondering if anyone else has this problem? I can type a meeting into my calendar or enter it into my phone but it doesn’t help me keep the appointment. Even setting an alarm doesn’t help me remember the meeting in time to actually prepare or arrive on time. The act of manually writing the meeting in a paper calendar; however, keeps it at the forefront of my mind and I not only remember to prepare for it but arrive early. As a result I am calm and remain relaxed throughout. Why is this? It seems like the method of entry wouldn’t matter. It should be the act of entering the information itself that keeps the appointment fresh.

I look at my calendar multiple times a day, everyday at work. I carry my phone with me at all times. It isn’t that this information is not readily accessible. In fact my leather planner, while accompanying me to meetings, just sits out on my desk. It doesn’t beep or flash but somehow I remember what’s in there and forget the appointment that just popped up on my screen saying I had 15 minutes to get over to the main hospital building.

I have a theory about this. During my formative years, I had to rely on paper planners. That’s all there were. I could write things down but I had to have a process of remembering to look everyday and then remembering what was on that day’s schedule. I think that the computer calendar and the phone apps have allowed our brains to become lazy. How many people can’t remember phone numbers anymore? As a teenager, before the advent of the cell phone, I had an entire list of phone numbers in my head. In fact, I still remember my old phone number. I don’t know my current office number. It’s on my business card but I rarely look at that information and I don’t call myself. I don’t remember a fraction of the numbers on my contact list. They are in my phone. If my phone dies, I might know who to call but I won’t remember his number.

I have taken to entering information into a paper planner, not only as a backup, but to help retrain my brain to process and retrieve information. I thing the computer and the phone are wonderful tools if we use them correctly. I fear, though, that too many are turning off important mental processes and relying on electronic aids to do the busy work. I don’t believe that computers will eventually become our masters here on Earth (well, except in the sense that I must have the newest model) but I wonder if we are doing our future selves a disservice in terms of preventing neurological disorders. Could it be that memory work could help delay Alzheimer’s? For me, I think I’m going to start working a bit harder on my memory. I hate to think that I didn’t do everything possible to avoid the ultimate brain dump.

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