How the brain hard-wires us to love Google – Emily Yoffe: Response to key reading.

Whilst reading this piece, on numerous occasions I was agreeing with what Yoffe comments upon as barbaric as it seems being compared to a lab rat. “Sometimes it feels as if the basic drives for food, sex, and sleep have been overridden by a new need for endless nuggets of electronic information” is a reflection which I’m sure many people can I agree with. I can easily admit I spend a ridiculous amount of time on my phone during the day, seeking information about various things or what other people do. And for what? I have even often had conversations with other’s where we question something, then Google it on our phones there and then – just because we can. We are so desperate to fulfil our needs, know the answer… “we reach the point that we wonder about our sanity”.

Whilst it may seem unorthodox to be comparing the mind of humans to the mind of a lab rat, Yoffe interestingly informs us of an experiment undertaken by James Olds and how rats would learn. It was “assumed he’d found the brain’s pleasure center” and later went on to discover “that people will neglect almost everything – their personal hygiene, their family commitments – in order to keep getting that buzz”. Do we get a buzz from the online information we constantly seek? With information so readily available and more people sharing things everyday, the possibilities of what we can discover are endless. “Like the lab rats, we keep hitting ‘enter’ to get our next fix”.

Why can we not detach ourselves? Why do we get such a thrill from this constant access to information? Yoffe includes research from the work of neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp who “says that when we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about diving meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.” The article puts into perspective just how hooked we are and how much time we could consider as ‘wasted’ while we trawl through endless amounts of information online. But we all do it, and we have no reason to stop. Apart from the fact we could almost consider ourselves as Internet junkies and it is sad to think how detached we become from the real world. At the age of 20, although I am now heavily influenced by the progressing digital world I experienced playing outside in the summer as a child, riding a bike and making up adventures – but what are the children of today doing?  I think we all know the answer.

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~ by victoriasimkissphotography on March 1, 2014.

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