The Apple-Eyed Monster & Popcorn Brain
The past 48 hours saw me, a usually even-minded individual, turning into a seriously foul monster. The source of my truculence and asinine behavior was my iPhone. Well, I take that back. It wasn't my iPhone so much as it was the fact that my iPhone was supposed to be getting this magical new iOS 5 update. Ok... So it got the update, but then there were problems.
First it couldn't find the backup, so the restore was an iffy thing. Would it work? Wouldn't it? Then it wouldn't sync. Then it froze my iTunes when it tried to sync. Then my frozen iTunes chronically angered the very old man that is my 4 year old laptop. (Apparently a 4 year old MacBook is the same as an octogenarian.)
To top it all, everyone around the world was tweeting Odes of Joy over their love for the iOS 5 that was working seamlessly. Or, at least, they'd been able to fix their issues with a modicum of irritation. Mine not only wouldn't fix, but nobody could figure out what happened. Nobody had any clue what was wrong with my phone and my iTunes and my computer. Why me? Really...
Yes, I even took it to the Apple store on day 2. The Genius was baffled. He told me to go home and hope for a patch.
Long story short, late last night I finally got it all to work. My life was back in order. There was an issue with a couple of possible corrupted files and stuff... Whatever. It's over. Let's not dwell.
Except, looking back over the last 48 hours, I was dwelling. Like, in a bad way.
I have a confession: My name is Fire Lyte, and I am a tech addict. About 10 years ago, I lived with my parents in my small town where a computer was pretty much not worth buying, because you couldn't get internet. Well, you could, but it was dial-up. (Back when dial-up was still around $50/month.) Suffice it to say, because it was expensive, mildly useless, and expensive (did I mention expensive), we just didn't have any of that. My mother was the only person in our family that had a cell phone, and that was because she was on the road constantly for work and had a need for being able to communicate on the go.
In other words, I remember that my life existed before I got a cell phone. Before texting became my primary mode of communication. And the more I reflect on my fairly juvenile fit-throwing from the past couple of days, the more I am deeply saddened by the effect technology has had on my life. Yes, it's allowed me a certain level of recognition and personal achievement. I mean, I've been able to connect with all of you amazing people. I've made friends and learned so much. I can get answers to questions faster than ever.
But... A recent study identified a phenomenon in young people called popcorn brain. Basically, folks that spend lots of time with their smartphones or on the internet have less gray matter - in other words, they can't think as well. They cannot access information they already know. This came to mind this morning when I was getting my hair cut. I was trying to recommend the movie 'Stranger Than Fiction' - 2006 with Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, and Queen Latifah. It's great. You should watch it. But, I couldn't think of it. I could picture the case. I knew the names of the actors and the plot. I could NOT for the life of me think of the title. What did I immediately do? Whipped out my trusty, working iPhone and opened up the IMDb app. I found the answer within second.
The popcorn effect occurs because we don't have to know information. We don't have to remember details or have conversations where we ponder minute details... We can know them instantly, but the problem is...then we don't commit them to long-term memory. The physiology of the human brain is changing, because we're not using it. Because we're relying on these little screens in every corner of our lives to remember all the things we choose not to remember. No more long-term memory. Smaller vocabularies.
There's hope! The more you read books, have verbal conversations with people, and refrain from relying on tech for answers and phone numbers and correct spellings, the more of your brain you can get back.
The phrase "My entire life is on that phone/laptop/iPad/etc." is all too common. I needed my life to function the way it always had, and I literally lost sleep because my iPhone wasn't syncing. I haven't had some great epiphany that's now going to turn me into a tech-eschewing monk. But... I might possibly up my book reading. And, I'll make sure to stock up on Unisom next time there's an iOS update. Also, I might just wait a day or two to download.
How has tech effected YOUR life? Answer in the comments below.
Love and Lyte,