Simple is as simple does

I used to love a good route plan. Half an hours drive in London – checking the map, choosing a route, memorising the turns. The satisfaction of getting there hassle free, or the excitement / mild panic of knowing you’d gone wrong somewhere, parking up, looking at street signs around you and working out where you were and how to get where you need to be (again). Re-memorising. No blue dot, immediately locating you in a sea of streets. The modern day ‘you are here’ arrow, connecting you seamlessly to where you need to be. Giving you alternative routes, timings and to the second traffic updates. (And that’s all just on your phone – it doesn’t even include the almost redundant tom tom)

I had an argument / discussion with someone recently about some friends who, given a pivotal role in another friends life event, turned up 15mins late. I thought it unacceptable, because you know how long journeys will take these days. Google has mapped it. Its simple. No excuses. I am eternally guilty of arriving a tube station not knowing where the exact location of my destination is, and only finding the Red Pin minutes before my meeting. However I always leave ample time and check all possible travel routes and apps to get there on time. Especially when it really, really matters.

Sums, routes, recipes, memories, relationships – those are just some of the things that technology has simplified for us, made so straightforward that we don’t need to think or memorise. Ever. What impact will that have on our brains? Does it free up space for other thinking? Or does it slow down our processing and will our children, and their children, become hopeless self-navigators with bizarrely large thumbs, poor maths skills, short memories – unaware of the real world around them?

I don’t know, but its a bit terrifying. I know technology frees us in so many ways, and expands our world and the possibilities within it. But what do we forfeit in brain terms for this?

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