I am in my late 30s and I have been noticing a few mental declines I have been having. In my younger years, I was very mentally sharp, constantly reading and writing, had a great memory, and just overall felt smarter. I understand things start to decline as we get older, and I have already had physical tests taken that came back normal. What I am noticing goes beyond that.
Thinking about how I was 15 years ago, I realize that I was a lot smarter. I am not trying to put myself down but I think it has a lot to do with all of the new technology advances from 15 years ago to now. Back then I would take out a piece of paper and a pencil and actually work out math problems the old-school way. Now I rely on a calculator 100 percent to where I am starting to forget how to work out math problems the old way. I used to go to the library to actually research subjects I wanted to learn more about, and now I depend on Google to give me all of the answers. I also used to try and figure out directions on a real map, and now I talk to my GPS on my phone. I went to look at the map the other day and I had a really hard time figuring out how to map my line of travel.
What is your take on all of this? Does this mean technology is hindering my intellectual capabilities or is it just because I am getting older?
—Trying To Hang On
Dear Trying To Hang On,
As with everything, balance is key. Although our mental capabilities tend to naturally decline as we age, there are things we can do to slow the process down.
There is nothing wrong with using technology; however, why not challenge yourself to use it less? Like in the scenarios you mentioned, why not try to figure out a math problem with a pencil and paper first, and then as a last resort if you want to double-check your answer, use the calculator solely as a backup? Instead of relying on Google, why not do some research at the library like you used to or even in hardcover books you might already have at home? Start practicing using a map again and then when you need to design a travel route, you can always double-check for accuracy with your GPS.
I think that as technology advanced throughout the years, we became more and more dependent on it as it can basically almost do everything for us.
But, just because it can do everything for us doesn’t mean it should.
The more we depend on technology and less we depend on our brains, the faster we will lose our brain and thinking capabilities.
Why not challenge yourself? See if you can go one full day without using anything technological and see if you can tell the difference. After trying it for a day, why not try it for a week straight? See if you are able to remember how to do things the old-school way or even if you see a difference in exercising your mind again as opposed to having all of the answers at your fingertips. Even just making small changes such as using a hardcover dictionary instead of Google’s dictionary versions can make a huge difference.
Try to find a balance between using technology and figuring things out on your own by using your own brain like you did years before. After all, if all of the technology in the world somehow crashed one day, all you would have left to figure everything out on your own would be your brain.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice; however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.