You’re sitting in front of TV one evening and someone asks, “Where is Kazakhstan?” What do you do if you don’t immediately know the answer?
If you just ask Google you will be missing out on so much. Most worryingly, you will be missing out on giving your plastic brain an opportunity to improve itself, to develop new neuronal pathways and to strengthen the ones it already has.
If, before saying “OK Google” you try and think about it for a while you will be giving your brain the food and exercise it needs to thrive.
You will call on memory to remind you of all the things you have heard and read about Kazakhstan in the past – in newspapers, on TV, on the internet. You will sift through those memories, comparing them and discriminating between the ones that help and those that don’t.
You might try and visualise a map of Europe and the Middle East and see if you can associate the placement of Kazakhstan with the placement of other countries that you do know about.
Perhaps you will remember the old atlas on the shelf under the coffee table and you will pull it out and search for Kazakhstan. While you are looking in the atlas you may well notice where numbers of other countries, as well as Kazakhstan, are located. You will see the names of major cities and if the map is a relief map you discover Kazakhstan is largely made up of desert areas.
Someone else in the room might know a little more than you and together you might be able to come up with an answer.
There are so many good things you can do for your brain before asking Google. Yes, Google will probably post a map with a little red marker for Kazakhstan and it might feel like a great shortcut way to what you found in the atlas. But look at all the things your brain missed out on doing – remembering, comparing, associating, filtering, connecting, visualising, browsing and thinking interdependently with others.
Just as eating a diet of mushy ‘pre-chewed’ food would risk the health of your teeth, a regime of fast facts and information via Google risks the health and development of your brain.
Google is great. But don’t let it replace your brain!