Thursday, May 31, 2012

Internet vs. A Million Dollars

I just heard a snippet on the radio about a popular video that asks ‘Would you give up the Internet for a Million Dollars?’  At first, sounds like a pretty easy question.  “Yes of course, I would”  But think again.  That would mean, in addition to letting go of FB, Blogs, Twitter and all the unnecessary stuff, you’ll also be giving up email, google, smart phones, airline bookings etc. etc.  
Considering you won’t be able to use email anymore, you probably are worthless in the job market except if you are a waiter or a farmer.  Heck, even farmers might be checking the weather on the internet these days, who knows.  So effectively, you have no job, no social life but you’ll have a million dollars. Even if you invest the million dollars in some bank account or fund, you won’t be able to access online statements or get updates about Fund performance on the net.  You’ll have to rely on the old method of paper statements and monthly fund reports that would reach you almost a month after the month end.
A million dollars do not sound that appealing anymore!
Take a look at the video, none of the people surveyed were  ready to give up the internet for even around a billion dollars and in that sense, if we have the internet, aren’t we billionaires already?  (The video though points out an interesting aspect about worth vs. price – People are paying pennies for the Internet which is actually worth a billion dollars to them. That is a discussion for another day).
But for now, let us billionaires continue to enjoy our billion bucks.  And that brings us to another question.  How much has our life changed as a result of the internet and technology?
Earlier we used to memorise everything from phone numbers to general knowledge such as the Tallest Tower, Highest Bridge etc.  Now we just google it up.  We no longer remember anything anymore; so is this reliance on the internet making our brains idle and useless?
You’d probably be nodding your heads in agreement!
The answer is NO.
Fresh research suggests that this reliance on the internet is changing the way our brain works.  The brain is less likely to recall information if it knows it can be found elsewhere.  Instead our brains now create room for more power of analysis and have moved away from memory storage.  Amazing piece of research this, I must say.
When our parents grew up as kids, their day would consist of a planned schedule of 5 hours school, 2 hours nap, 2 hours for studies, 2 hours for games outside, 2 hours extra activity (learning music / stitching) and 1 hour TV.  Given this change in the way our brains work, and the fact that a school going child spends on an average 7.5 hours on various media including internet and TV everyday (a survey in US), it would be amazing to see how kids of today grow up.  Their brains no longer need to remember a lot so that brain power would be put to some other use.
Come to think of it, there definitely would have been some change in the way our brains work given the fact that the speed of major discoveries is just getting faster by the day. The speed with which our life is changing, thanks to new inventions, is just mind boggling today.  Compare this to generations living in the 1500s.  They probably would live their entire life without witnessing a new thing. 
 We however, live in the generation wherein things have been invented, become the rage and also become obsolete just within few years.  Think Walkmans, Floppy disks etc.  Thus Brands today grow very fast compared to the earlier years where say a Bajaj Chetak took decades to create brand loyalty towards it.  Today a Nano or an Iphone is a favoured or unfavoured Brand within days of hitting the market.  Similarly, the shelf life of a brand is also very short compared to earlier.
It is amazing how our intelligence is changing our lives almost every day, in ways more than we can imagine. Right from the way we do things to even how our brains are evolving.  In the 2000 years though, there is one thing that hasn’t changed – the size of our brain; it still weighs the same 1.5 kgs.

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