Unplug & Recharge//

How Search Engines Make Us Mentally Lazy

“Just Googling it” may do more harm than we think.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

In an eye-opening piece on Quartz titled “Googling gives us answers — but deprives us of intelligence,” writer Ted Hunt explores the darker side of search engines, specifically the way they affect our intellectual abilities.

The idea he points to, the “Google Effect,” isn’t new, but it’s worth revisiting. In 2011, researchers from Columbia University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard teamed up to study how having so much information readily available to us via the internet affects our memory. The Google Effect refers, broadly, to the idea that we get mentally complacent as a result of knowing that we can easily look something up if we need to. When we know an answer is at our fingertips, we’ll remember how to retrieve that information (see: Google search) but not how to recall the information on our own.

This means “we quickly become less vigilant and increasingly passive in our judgement of the world around us,” Hunt writes. Knowing everything is readily available with a quick search makes us less reliant on our own thoughts and knowledge and cuts us off from the wisdom of others, too. In a nutshell, we’re mentally lazy not just about storing information for ourselves, but we’re also less likely to ask our friends or family for answers.

While we can’t change the search system all at once, you can try looking something up in a place other than the internet before you turn to a search engine. Experiment with using an “old fashioned” technique like asking a friend, using an encyclopedia or heading to the library.

Read Hunt’s entire piece here.

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Wonder//

What Happened When I Stopped Using Google For a Week

by Shelby Lorman
Wisdom//

To Get More Out of Life, Choose to Do Less

by Melissa Chu
Work Smarter//

Stop These 4 Common Beliefs Now to Think More Clearly

by Dr. Nicole Lipkin

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.