You know when there’s a thought on the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t get it out? Holding tightly to some magnetic tastebud, the unspeakable words torture you, your brain unable to get its act together, take the elevator down to your vocal cords and push that baby out. What was I going to say? What was I going to do? It’s frustrating.
One time, I had a pretty magical tip-of-the-tongue moment. Irate with my inability to remember what I was about to say or do, I kept fiddling away on my keyboard at a probably over-analyzed gchat conversation. I subconsciously hit my CTRL+V paste shortcut and what I saw amazed me. It was a sentence I’d overzealously typed to my partner in conversational crime and decided to hold onto for later use. However, it was not just any mildly out-of-line thought. It was that verbal foliage that had bloomed in my head, at one time something important I felt the need to say. Yet it withered away in absent-minded distraction–my brain decided to let it go once it was copied into my computer. That tip-of-the-tongue thought–it wasn’t really on the tip of my tongue. It wasn’t even in my subconscious once it made its way to the screen via my fingertips. It was simply a sentence stored in my other subconscious memory system. My computer. My virtual-mental cloud, for when my actual mind is clouded.
I often talk of my third hand(s). My iPhone, which has taken the place of so many of my previously cognitive-based functions over the past 5 years. My laptop, which has been a portal into different worlds, constantly affecting conscious thoughts of my own reality. But now, the locus of my consciousness isn’t just centered in my own hardware. My human capability is not only enhanced or aided by the power of my external technological parts. I’ve made a shift, where my subconscious thoughts are located in some intangible cloud that I can’t necessarily see or touch. My brain has lost that ability to hold onto to a thought of my own creation, which I’ve decided to store in the ever-changing copy-paste pocket of my computer.
It makes me nervous of course. What other functions of my cognition have been lost, or rather, replaced by my constant use of technology? Is the plasticity of my brain finding purpose through technical adaptation versus humanistic mental work? Can the ways in which my brain functions actually be changing as my technological tools become more powerful, more present, and even more weaved into my everyday activities?
In short: I have a feeling the answer is yes–my brain is changing. What will the ultimate effect of it all be? Well if things keep up this way, then–wait I was going somewhere with this…it’s right on tip of my tongue…
I fear for you.