Digital amnesia? Blame it on your digital habits
By Swati Basu Das — Imagine this: How secured are your data bank in your own brain after loosing a phone that stores all your contact details, messages and even day-to-day work schedules in the notepad? Can you immediately recall the number of your dearest friend or even say your boss and give them a buzz from a phone booth to explain what is taking you so long to reach them? How far can a memory go to secure the precious details on loss of the most trusted device?
Gone are the days of organiser and plain pen and paper. The digital age has brought in lot more ease to our life and even gifted almost half a dozen of world’s population with what is commonly known as ‘digital amnesia’ — forgetting basic information which is secured in a trusted device that works for a human brain keeping it far away from memorising the details.
Forgetting is most annoying when involved losing information most needed to be remembered. Trusting on the device easily connected to all throughout makes remembering data and information a less worried functioning of the brain.
While storing data and scrolling down the smart phone screen looking for the desired data and information or even an eight-digit phone number of a dear friend seems as easy, forgetting those precious details has something more than just stress and daily busy schedule. “Memory is intimately related to recall trials. Each time an item is recalled, the memory of the item gets strengthened. With the availability of digital tools, recall trials are reduced, and so the memory of the particular item.
The so-called digital amnesia is nothing but a strategy used by brain to reequip in an increasingly digitalised world,” says Dr Srijithesh P Rajendran of Neurology Department in one of the hospitals in Muscat.
Digital amnesia is an affliction spreading with memory cells reducing its ability to store the information which once were easy enough to handle without smart phones and iPads. “As we have become more reliant on technology to remember which once our brain used to perform,” says Dr Srijithesh.
Readily available at the click of a button, it’s a need to diligently protect the valuable information and precious memories thus avoiding much involvement of human memory to record and store things like phone number and even important notes. “Even pen and paper too had somewhat similar effect back in the days though organiser is less used when compared to notepads and iPads in recent times to scribble the scheduled meeting dates and time and even important messages.”
According some experts, dependence on Internet and gadgets to record data is simple because it is readily available to perform the act without much hassle. Being the most adaptive creature among others, remembering things which are of lesser importance or even everything is not to an advantage, leading to dependence on something which can assist in protecting the memory.
“The syndrome of digital amnesia is said to affect almost all age groups irrespective of the stress level as almost all information from most important to messages of lesser importance are known to have stored in phones or on their laptops. This makes them less worried of remembering the information,” says another psychiatrist in Muscat.
Trusting the device to remember information on behalf of the brain is more helpful when forgetting becomes a regular habit. Similar to the access of essential commodities, devices used to store important messages and data bank has become an essential product in day-to-day life. “Digital amnesia can be simply put as forgetting things, mostly contact details and schedules which we don’t need to remember as we have an assistant that does it on behalf of our own brain.”
When 40-year-old Ravendra Ghosh based in Oman lost his phone during a casual trip, all he could do was to cut short his trip and be back home. “I lost my phone on the third day of my trip to India, I became disoriented and all I thought was to return back home. Still now I am feeding all contacts and data to my new phone,” he said.
“The effects of digital amnesia are a sudden feeling of helplessness as if you are transported to a foreign country where you don’t know anybody or even the language,” an psychiatrist said.
It’s not too late to pick up the pen and paper and mug up certain important details all so dear to recall upon rather than feeding them into a device and forgetting about it completely.