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Annoying, isn’t it?
You say to yourself, “I’ll just Google it.”
Then you do. Get the goods. Move on.
Only problem is …
Next time you need the info …
Thanks to Digital Amnesia …
Honestly, this condition called “Digital Amnesia” or “Google Amnesia” … stinks.
Not only do you have a fine brain humming along in your skull … There are also a gazillion good reasons why you should be using it properly.
Yes, properly. Even if you really can just look stuff up online.
Because here’s the VERY good news:
This year is the best year ever to use your memory at the highest possible level.
And this is the year you’re going to make it happen, even if battles with net neutrality are starting to make the Internet we’ve come to love look like an endangered species.
You Can’t Annihilate A Problem You Haven’t Defined
It’s fun to throw around cool terms like “The Google Effect” and “Digital Dependence.”
But until you’ve spent some time defining the monster, you’ll have a hard time setting it on fire. Or at least using your Magnetic torches to herd it out of the village.
That said … what exactly is “Digital Amnesia”?
Back in 2015, the Internet security company Kaspersky Lab put out an interesting report on the matter. You really should read it.
To condense the report for you, Digital Amnesia occurs whenever your mind draws a blank on information you’ve stored on a device you trust.
And as the report suggests, this outcome isn’t always a bad thing. For example, do you really need to remember the thousands of website addresses you’ve bookedmarked (and never visited again)?
But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Also included is information like the phone numbers of family members and friends.
And the reality is that by not remembering them anymore, we’re endangering lives as we weaken our brains.
Without knowing the numbers of your loved ones, what would you do in an emergency if your phone wasn’t working? Ask a good Samaritan if he remembers your spouse’s number?
No way, Jose. That’s your job. And you’ve got all the tools you need to get all kinds of simple number strings done when you use the Major Method.
How To Suck The Life Out Of Half Your Brain
Ever heard of “deskilling”? It basically means that you become less capable over time because you’re no longer using certain skills.
And that can only lead to bad outcomes:
* A destroyed brain
* Crappy employment
* No employment
* … and much, much worse, including linguistic deskilling.
But you’re probably asking:
How exactly does having Google and your devices remember everything for you destroy your brain?
When you develop dependence on technology, the areas of your brain responsible for memory start to decay. Just like the muscles in your body would do if you stopped walking.
The Truth About Deskilling Your Brain
No, deskilling the muscles of your memory won’t necessarily happen to you overnight.
But one day you’ll wake up and …
Bam! You Can Barely Remember A Thing!
And it gets worse.
Because memory has a sibling.
And as long as you have the Internet at your fingertips, you don’t even bother using your concentration to try and access things you might actually have in your memory.
How To Put A Barrier Between Need And Action
Instead of instantly searching for information you already know, pause for a second.
Give your memory a bit of space. Ask and you might just receive.
But when you push it away and go straight to the search engines, you’re deskilling your memory every time.
And that means you’re also damaging your concentration.
The good news is that you can improve focus fast with these tips, but there will be more work to be done.
Starve The Brain To Rebuild The Brain
Yes, I’m talking about destroying digital amnesia by going on an information diet.
But wait! you protest. I don’t want to miss out on –
Miss out on what? More fake news of the impending apocalypse?
Come close, my friend. I’ll show you exactly how to take a powerful, memory-boosting digital detox so you can seriously improve your entire life in the process.
Stop Letting The Internet Push You Around
Here’s a little secret for you:
I have never once “allowed push notifications.”
So far, I don’t think I’ve missed out on anything of any interest. I could be horribly wrong about that, but I recommend you never accept notifications of any kind in your life that you don’t control.
By being in control of when you’re disrupted, you automatically improve your ability to concentrate.
Fight Digital Amnesia Like A Magnetic Jedi
For a real Jedi Mind Trick memory exercise, try setting a notification with a positive message for 12:03 p.m. every day.
Then work on remembering and reminding yourself that the notification comes at that time. It’s tough, but doable. Your mind really can track time and remind itself to remember.
(For more cool Mind Tricks like these, check out my post on brain exercises.)
Put Your Devices In The Dog House
Virginia Woolf famously wrote that writers need their own rooms to create in without disruption.
Well, all humans need their own place to sleep without their machines. Problem is, so many people use their devices as alarm clocks. This sad fact means that they’re checking their notifications and messages before even stepping out of bed.
That’s no way to build a better brain.
Instead, put your laptops and smartphones out in a hallway closet, kitchen or completely other room.
If you need something to wake you up, use an old fashioned analog clock or one of those fancy lamps that slowly turns on over time. That gives you the effect of waking up with the sun and gives you a great dose of light that will contribute great things to your health.
Use Airplane Mode Without Fear
It’s no secret that I write almost every episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast on my iPhone.
But people ask me all the time, How on earth do you do it?
There’s actually a long answer coming out in a new training I’m putting out, but the fast and dirty response is: Airplane mode.
I concentrate like there’s no tomorrow when writing because Airplane Mode prevents anything and everything from contacting my iPhone. And since all Push Notifications have been disabled, it’s just me, my words and the music.
Same things go for when I’m using The Big Five Of Language Learning in combination with my Pimsleur Memory Technique:
There’s nothing to interrupt me as I exercise my memory. And that means that my concentration muscles grow at the same time.
Remember this simple equation:
Exercising Your Memory =
Improving Your Concentration
However, don’t make the mistake in thinking that it works the other way around. Concentration is a tool that helps you remember more based on paying better attention. But it’s not a sure-fire guarantee.
That’s why it pays to learn how to use the best possible memorization technique. (You are subscribed to this blog and have taken my free video course, right? If not, just scroll up and tell me where to send it.)
Cut The Umbilical Cord At Least Once A Week
Don’t worry, it’ll grow back.
The ultimate way to help your brain is simple:
Take entire blocks of time away from the digital onslaughts to which we subject ourselves.
When you start, start small.
Vow to not check your device and stay off all computers for an hour.
Just one hour.
You bet it is.
Then see if you can’t extend it to an entire 24 hours.
And listen, you’re not getting this advice from a wanker who doesn’t walk his talk.
Hard as it sometimes, week after week, I perform at least one digital fast.
What To Do During Your Digital Fast
Personally, I like to have options.
But if I were to boil things down to one portrait, here’s one of my fave “digital detox walkabouts.”
First, I pop a blank page notebook into my backpack along with a bunch of colored pens.
Then I pack in my Chinese character book and a deck of playing cards.
Next comes a bottle of water, usually my Soul Bottle.
Maybe something to read, like a print newsletter.
All that done, I head out the door.
No podcasts, no music, no communications technology.
And when you do this, it’ll be great because it’ll be …
Nothing But You And Your Memory!
If you’re still with me, let’s play do-as-I-do.
Picture yourself walking from your home to your favorite park or cafe.
Depending on the weather, you go outside some place where you can soak in the sun.
Heck, you might even do some of these exercises just standing on the side of the street:
Or, if you’re doing a coffee and memory experiment or it’s unpleasant outside, you head for your favorite cafe.
While walking, you think about all the buildings you’re passing. You enter the odd shop you’ve never been in and consume it into your memory for use as a Memory Palace.
You notice a street you’ve never walked down before and take it.
Then, when you’ve reached your destination, you get out your supplies.
Since you’re the author of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, you’ll start with a …
MMBD (Mind Map Brain Dump)
Or you’ll use your blank notebook to do something else memory-related you’re not telling anyone about … yet. 😉
Next, you’ll pull out some cards, shuffle and memorize them. You’ll set the cards aside, let a few minutes pass and write out all the cards you remember on a piece of paper.
Optional method: Carry two decks. Once you’ve memorized the randomized cards in the first deck, you can reconstruct the order using the second deck. Then you can flip each of the cards over one by one, comparing them.
The reason I don’t use this method personally is because I feel that the writing process helps strengthen recall in many ways. I’ll be looking into the claims that “the hand builds the mind” in a more scientific way throughout 2017.
In the meantime, just test different options for yourself as you fend off digital amnesia.
Memorize Something Related To Your
Computer-Free Memory Project
Finally, I crack open my Chinese Character book and draw a Memory Palace. Following the Magnetic Memory Method, I correspond everything with The Principle of Alphabetization and get busy.
All of this is done without computers of any kind, including the walk home.
Except this time instead of thinking about and gathering new Memory Palaces, you’re practicing Recall Rehearsal (this is a flexible memory method, not a memory system).
And the last thing you do before you switch the computers back on is test what you’ve memorized at the cafe. Either just the cards or Chinese or both (both is best).
And for bonus points, you never do turn the machines back on. You just hop into bed with a good book and your honey-bunny for some oxytocin-inducing love memories. (Yes, sex helps your memory too while you’re healing from digital amnesia!)
Recognize The Privilege Of Having
Memory Abilities You Can Improve
Okay, I’ll admit it. This is a mindset thing.
But the reason I focus on mindset so much is the same reason it applies to dealing with digital amnesia. You’ve got to understand this one thing:
Not everyone is so lucky to have memory.
Brain damage from trauma of all kinds …
Heck, some people are born without ever having had the ability to use their memory at all.
But Not You!
If you’re reading this post or listening to the podcast version, you can completely skip the rise and impact of digital amnesia on brains around the world.
Because you have the opportunity to save your brain.
And you have clues and tools for exercising your memory and concentration.
The only thing you have to worry about next is what you’re going to do with all your super powers.
With Great Memory Power Comes
Great Memory Responsibility
Yes, it’s time to dust off that old comic book line once again. (In case you don’t recognize the heading above, I’m trying to tap into your episodic memory of Spider-Man and a few other levels to remind you that you’re a superhero.)
But don’t worry. I’m not talking about responsibility for the entire world.
It’s the responsibility to keep using your mind and memory.
Your head isn’t just for hanging hair on. It yearns for brain exercise.
And your head demands that you take action.
Trust me. If you don’t use it, digital amnesia will take over. You will lose your memory and the overall health of your mind.
So step up to the plate and stop Google from ruining your memory.
You’re the only one who can.
Great piece of work.
Glad to hear you liked this piece. Thanks for stopping by to read and listen. 🙂
Thank you Anthony. I downloaded the audiobook and am waiting to find a good time to hear it. In the meantime, I am reading some Aristotle and Plato, notably on ethics (“Nicomachean Ethics” and “Republic”). So many classics, so little time.
The great thing with the classics of most eras is that few new ones ever show up and no one is adding to the pile. I’ll have to go revisit Kermode’s classic definition of what makes a Classic, however …
Have fun with The Nichomachean Ethics and The Republic. Two of my all-time favorites! 🙂
Putting devices in the dog house – great point! Something that I haven’t thought about before. I have been using the bedtime feature on the iPhone recently, but now I am wondering about alternatives.
Thanks for sharing Anthony!
Thanks for stopping by, Peter!
Bedtime features are interesting and worth experimenting with. But the concern is obviously that they’re still encouraging us to keep the phone close during a time when it should be far away.
I’d love to hear back from you if you give this a try for 3-4 weeks and see what, if anything changes, for you. 🙂
Hello! Nice podcast as usual.
What this episode reminds me of is the struggle between posthumanism and prohumanism. Posthumanism focuses on tweaking the tools and then attaches those to the individual. While prohumanism focuses on tweaking the individuals potentials first, and if there are tools available use the tools if they help out solving problems.
A posthuman stance would make you dependent of the tools, while a prohumanism stance would make you dependent on your own understanding of yourself and the problems ahead. The tools should just be just tools and not a part of your identity or abilities. Or else you risk to gravitate towards not to live as a whole human
Thanks for these great thoughts, Pelle. You gave me the opportunity to remember another term, which is “transhuman.”
I first heard this one when Christopher Dewdney lectured on the topic at York University in 1999. If I remember correctly, there is a middle path between posthumanism and posthumanism in his argument, and that is the correct understanding and maintenance of culture as humanity evolves.
Part of the problem is that the transition through evolution “blinds” us to culture. This is problematic because there really are no individuals: just interfaces between egoistic moments of “I” and “you” and “it.” To be able to embrace them all is probably the wholeness we each seek. But, of course, matters like these involve a lifetime of thought and discussion.
Thanks for raising this memory and giving me more to think about. Much appreciated! 🙂
You’re unbelievable, Anthony.
Where do you come up with so many useful memory exercises and mini-activities?
I hope you soon find a way to get your ideas and programs into schools – for kids and adults.
I agree that excessively being online takes a toll on our memory.
Awesome advice to work on memory strategies for improving the right side of our brain, as well as our focus.
I have to begin remembering content for videos. Ugg.
Let me know when you’re memory device comes out for transplanting info in and recalling it exactly the way we need it, on demand.:)
Thanks for stopping by, Keri.
The beauty of being in the trenches is that I see the territory for what it is, rather than merely think about it. That creates endless new ideas. I also try to follow up on all the suggestions and questions proposed by my readers, which creates even new ideas.
Regarding remembering content for videos, just start small. Remembering even just three bullet points – or less – will get you further than trying to remember an entire speech.
It’s also important to realize that most video experts recommend never memorizing text. This is because you look like you’re recalling information instead of performing it. There’s no shame in using a teleprompter so that you can focus on communication and delivery.
I’ve done it both ways, and at the end of the day, the teleprompter usually wins. No matter how well memorized the text might be, when it comes appearing natural on camera, reciting from memory just looks weird.
On this note, I think it’s important to realize that some of the best actors in the world don’t memorize their lines. For example, if you take Dustin Hoffman’s Masterclass, he goes into detail about this with some anecdotes about towering figures in the industry who litter the scene with pages from the script or have pockets filled with index cards for examination between takes.
Fascinating stuff! 🙂
As usual, loads of ideas on how to make the most of your memory – and your life. Little tricks like these could really help those with dementia or Alzheimers, or even just those older people whose memories are fading from lack of use. It’s fun playing memory games with children too.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Rosemary.
Yes, I think these games have potential for all ages.
And at the moment I’m putting together a video for a game that serves both as a memory improvement exercise and something just for fun. Stay tuned for that. Obviously, people who use the Magnetic Memory Method will have an advantage, but anyone can benefit from it.
Thanks again for your comment – look forward to your next contribution! 🙂
Thank you so much for this piece. I love reading your post.
For me, I check almost everything on google. Even If I want to send an email. I look for sample emails online.
I know it’s not cool but I still do it. I have to follow up with what you said and do my thinking. I still have lots of studies and reading to do. I feel I have few vocabulary, poor English etc. I always trust google to do the job for me. Thank you for this – I have to train this brain and develop it.
Thanks for taking a moment to comment, Emmanuel. Your English seems very good to me and so long as you’re using it, your abilities with the language will be growing.
And, as you mention, you get brain training as part of the deal. That’s a wonderful thing.
Thanks again and I look forward to your next contribution here on the site! 🙂