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Uncommon Sense

Do you know anyone who relies exclusively on their "smart" phone for answers? It seems that many of us are so dependent on technology that we stop thinking for ourselves. We've decided to trust information generated by a device without engaging in our own critical thinking process. What are the consequences? It may prevent us from developing effective problem-solving skills of our own. Or we may trust sources that aren't always reliable and valid, hence fake news. Or in an attempt to gather information on a topic we end up going down a rabbit hole that only gets us deeper into a state of confusion and assumptions. This is evident especially when we research a topic related to a medical issue. We can easily assume the worst case scenario based on endless information but limited understanding. While knowledge can be helpful, too much information can be damaging. Our minds can easily be consumed with information based on hypotheses, speculation, and predictions that are not factual or based on scientific evidence. Most of us like answers to questions and often, for expediency, seek a device over a person. While the device may be the best option in some cases, a real person may have experience, wisdom, and compassion that a machine can't provide.

Of course information from a device can be an incredibly helpful and efficient tool to gather knowledge, but limitations do exist. We need to be careful about the sources we select and fully understand their bias or agenda. Sometimes we tend to read what we want to hear and avoid information that contradicts our beliefs. We might do the same thing with our media choices and choose only programming that aligns with our belief system. We might be better educated by exposing ourselves to a diversity of information sources and by considering all of the data being offered through various media outlets. When we watch, read, or listen to multiple sources of information we broaden our mindset and expand our knowledge.

Another reason to limit our dependence on our "smart" devices is that some people develop a technology addiction and can experience anxiety and depression from excessive use and reliance on the digital world. Dependence on technology can also result in shortened attention spans and impatience. In today's technological society people have difficulties with delayed gratification and may develop memory problems. Being fixated on our devices limits our face-to-face interactions, limits our abstract and introspective thinking, and can limit our outdoor activity time which contributes to our obesity epidemic. So what can we do differently? We need to set boundaries and limits with our devices and find a healthy balance. We also need to rely more on our own cognitive capabilities and not be quick to get instant answers. Remember that relationships are not nurtured by sitting in front of a screen. Turn your electronics off and talk to the people you love daily. We need to learn to think for ourselves and rely on our common sense.

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