Technology: making us lazier

This is the future according to 80’s Sci-Fi, we have refrigerators that can order groceries for you, powerful all-in-one pocket computers and soon, self-driving cars. With all of the luxuries of today’s society a person doesn’t even have to leave their house to shop or even to pick up the items purchased.

Writing your own grocery lists is a thing of the past. Even the act of shopping at the grocery store can be done for you, saving time but at the same time it is getting harder to log 10,000 steps on your Fitbit. Technology is wonderful; it solves many problems of the past while simultaneously streamlining your life. It could also be making us lazy, and not just our bodies, our brains as well.

Starting early Sunday, taking inventory of the missing food in the refrigerator and writing up a shopping list is a thing of the past. LG has refrigerators that can keep track of expiration dates, offer recipes based on ingredients inside and even make a grocery list, which it then orders from your favorite store via the internet. This fridge even offers an LCD screen to access helpful apps like a giant cell phone.

“The LCD screen is more than just a glorified control panel, though. You can also use the screen to watch videos, show photos, listen to music and check the weather, among other options,” according to Michael Gowan of NBC news. This also means that the physical act of walking around the grocery store and using mental power to plan out what you need from the store for the next week are obsolete. We no longer have to do these menial tasks if we don’t want to.

Other parts of daily life, like driving, have also been simplified, allowing us to not even have to know where something is to be able to drive there. In the past, it was important to remember streets and locations of places not only in your own city but also any other city that you may frequent. Today, it is as easy as entering the address on your phone and the GPS will talk you through directions to get there. Psychologists have been studying the effects of using GPS on brain activity when driving.

“When participants had to do the hard mental work of figuring out which way to turn, the researchers saw more activity in the subjects’ hippocampus,” according to Rob Verger of Popular Science. “In short, the more complex the street, the more activity in that part of the brain.”

The opposite turned out to be true for the participants who used GPS, brain activity stayed very steady, meaning they were not having to think as hard. Without mental exercise our brains tend to suffer and become lazy, just like a muscle that never gets a workout, it will be weak.

So is technology to blame? No, people have a choice to use the technology they want. If someone doesn’t want to go to the store, they can order their groceries online. The technology which exists and enables us to not ever have to worry about memorizing streets or learning to read a real map cannot be blamed. Because we are the ones making the conscious decision to pass off tasks, that used to require some work, to our devices for a shot at an easier and less stressful existence. The only thing these new technologies are guilty of is enabling us to be lazy, the choice is still solely up to us.