Google vs Memory

Recent studies (Sparrow 2011 and Wagner 2011) have spoken of something called the ‘Google effect’ or ‘digital amnesia’. This is where our memory capacity is reducing massively due to having information so readily available on the internet. This generation are remembering less and less.

If you were stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken mobile phone, how many peoples numbers could you recall? Partner, home, friend….the list is going to be pretty short. I can remember 3 numbers and one of those is a old friend’s home number from when I was a kid. He doesn’t live there anymore so I guess it’s pointless.

Remembering recipes or ingredients for example. Few people bother remembering them because they are instantly available on Google. Studying for a degree is learnt, examined and forgotten. The second you step out of an exam hall is the most knowledgeable you will ever be on that subject before you lose that information from your memory banks.

So many of us are in such a rush to find information instantly. So many of us go to the internet before we go to a friend. Video clips provide us with tutorials on everything rather than asking others to show us. When you learn from someone, there is mentor-ship. A passing of information directly from one life to another. There is power in “let me show you”. There is power is showing the younger generation the ancient paths that many have learnt to work. Leaning over an older man’s shoulder when he lays a floor or changes a car battery adds wisdom, adds knowledge and in doing so, improves your life.

Learning is process. A journey. There are many ways to fake it but the depth of knowledge comes from studying, observing and putting into practice  what you are learning. Whether it be DIY or parenthood. Sometimes just taking stock, slowing down and doing nothing is a vital part of this learning process. I regularly need 5 mins of silence at my kitchen table when I get in from work to allow me think, process, wind down and re-group. This then allows me to give so much more to my family than I could otherwise.

Next time you need to know something: Ask, don’t android. Study, don’t search.

Allow time for the learning process, not just the answer.

Much love. Rob


Sparrow B, Liu J, Wegner DM. 2011.

Rob Harvie Written by:

One Comment

  1. Nick Franks
    11th February 2016

    Phone your friend’s old home number for a laugh & see if they’ll let you tell them about this post!

    Seriously, best line in this for me is:

    “Studying for a degree is learnt, examined and forgotten.”


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