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Jewish World Review
What happens when I forget where Google is?
"What's your cell phone number?" has got to be the most annoying question ever asked. How would I know? I never call it. Even if I did call it, I'd just go into my phone's address book and tell the phone to dial the number for me. I know it's listed in the phone's memory somewhere, but I can never remember how to find it.
When someone asks me the number, I just call their cell phone and their cell phone will give them my number -- as well as my name, my e-mail address, my address, my birthday, my wedding anniversary, my mother's maiden name, my Social Security number and the numbers of a few hundred of my nearest and dearest friends. It's all in my phone and my computer; who can remember all that stuff?
I have no memory for phone numbers anymore. My home phone remembers the last 50 callers by name and number for me, so it's so easy just to scroll back a few numbers and hit "dial." Why waste my precious brain space on that? My computer's address book and calendar store all that information for me. Why should I try to hold all those numbers in my head? Now I can use all that extra brain space for Twitter messages and Facebook friends. Maybe not. I can't remember them, either. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, memory. Funny story: I upgraded the software on my computer last week, and it erased my calendar. Ever since then, I have a nagging feeling that I'm always missing a doctor's appointment or an important anniversary or someone's birthday. I could look it up on my phone, but I've forgotten how.
You might think I'd be better off with an old-fashioned desk calendar and address book, but that's the great thing about having a paperless office: no messy desk calendars and bulky Rolodexes. Writing things down is gone with the … What do you call that stuff that blows? They made a movie out of it, remember? Never mind, I'll Google it. Wind. That's it! Writing things down is gone with the wind.
See, I didn't have to remember that or write it down. All I had to remember was Google, leaving space in my brain to remember the really important things like that thing Sue asked me to do this morning. Something about plants and water. Or was it plants and fire? Did she want me to put out her plants with water if they catch on fire? That must be it. She doesn't have to worry. I won't let her down.
They say as you get older, you should exercise your brain every day by doing something challenging, like learning a new language or doing crossword puzzles. I've gotten so much better at crossword puzzles with Google. I can breeze through the most difficult ones and only have to look up a few of the hardest and most obscure words, like rivers that end in "issippi" and Prince Charles' mother's name.
Sometimes I wonder how we lived in the Dark Ages before the Internet and cell phones came along.
We must have been really stupid. I'll give you an example. Last weekend, I wanted to grill some hamburgers out on the, what do you call it, oh yeah, the patio … so all I had to do was look up the recipe for hamburger on the Internet. In the old days, I would have had to remember the recipe, and I might have gotten it wrong.
As it was, I got the recipe exactly right and the burgers would have been perfect if I had remembered to buy propane for the grill. Even that would have been OK for the people who like it rare, except I forgot to buy those round, bready things you put the hamburgers on. I remember now that it was on my to-do list until my computer erased it. Stupid computer.
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Jim Mullen is the author of "It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life" and "Baby's First Tattoo."
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© 2009, NEA
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Ask Doctor K