Are we losing the ability to think for ourselves?

Isn’t modern technology wonderful?! It makes our life so much easier by taking the spade-work out of almost everything … including, it would seem, the necessity to actually think for ourselves.

My heart sank the other day when I watched an advertisement on the TV for another techy toy – not because I’m a Luddite or a technophobe – but because of what I see as sinister undertones. The ad showed a woman talking into said gadget and asking it “Will I need an umbrella this evening?” to be answered by the gadget, giving her the answer.

My usual modus operandi is to try to remember to watch the TV weather forecast after the news the night before or better still, looking out of the window and giving it my best guess (and, given that I live in the West of Scotland, taking an umbrella with me anyway, just in case).

But I guess it’s just easier to be told than to think it through for yourself.

Let me give you another example. When I was visiting my parents in Wiltshire recently, my dad pointed out a local newspaper article showing a photograph of a large lorry trapped between two cottages either side of a narrow village lane. Apparently, the driver’s sat nav had said this was the way to go, so abandoning common sense, he decided to keep following the instructions he was being given and ignore the obvious fact that his lorry was never going to fit through the gap.

I guess it’s just easier to be told than to think it through for yourself.

What else? Well, in the interests of climbing the league tables and getting good exam results, some school teachers are giving their pupils essays to learn and regurgitate during exams in order to get a decent grade. Achieve a good great they might well do … but what have they learned about critical thinking, analysis, debate, discussion? Nada. They’ve stepped back into a Dickensian style of ‘education’ that gets them to learn things by heart and repeat.

I guess it’s just easier … you get my drift.

You don’t have to look too closely to see this culture developing everywhere – from the latest gadgets to the classroom to newspapers telling us how frightened we should be of potential terrorist attacks, immigration policy, the economic climate and so on.

If for whatever reason we stop thinking for ourselves and making our own decisions, we also stop accepting responsibility for our actions: “The sat nav got it wrong!” (Sorry, was IT actually turning the steering wheel and pressing down on the accelerator?!)

Convenience is great. But what are we losing along the way?




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