Article in the Tyne Valley Express

My intention for this column was to write a review of the year. After all, 2012 was a “year to remember”, with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games. So I turned on my computer, typed in Google and searched for “Events of 2012” to jog my memory. Everything I needed was right there on the screen, all the information I required. But actually I was quite shocked at how much I had already forgotten. I really could not remember the number of Gold Medals we had won during the Olympics or which musicians had played at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert without the aid of my trusty search engine.

I am a Lawyer and my ability to recall the things I need to do my job efficiently and professionally is perfect. At work I am mentally focussed and good at what I do. However, ask me to recall my friend’s mobile phone number and I am at a loss. This is in spite of the fact I can remember a whole host of landline numbers belonging to friends when I was growing up in the 1980’s. Or ask me to name the actors in a film I saw last weekend and I will have to check on the internet. It may be my age but I am sure that recently my mind has rewired. Many things I know I should remember, I clearly do not

Apparently I am not alone. In Glasgow, a group of clinical scientists have identified a trend in which people are becoming increasingly forgetful as a result of information overload and labelled it “Busy Lifestyle Syndrome” . I have also heard it called “The Google Effect”, which is described “as the tendency to forget information that can be easily found using internet search engines such as Google, instead of remembering it”. I found that definition on Wikipedia . Case in point.

Because of the internet, Social Media and 24/7 television and news, we have access to more information than ever before. We have to filter it some way to stay sane and what seems to be happening is we no longer even try to remember certain things because we know we have the technology to do it for us.

There is new evidence from brain scans that young people who have grown up with all this technology are able to remember more things than we adults.

We may not be so adept at remembering everything, but we are becoming much better at knowing where to go in order to find things out and better at processing the information we believe to be important.

After investigation, I am happy to report that Team GB finished the Olympics with 65 medals including 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze and that musicians who played at the Diamond Jubilee concert included Tom Jones, Lang Lang and Annie Lennox.

This New Year I intend to make more of an effort to keep my mind sharp, my memory skills intact and my powers of recall super speedy. I had best start Googling to find out how.

Joanne Major is owner of Major Family Law, the Divorce and Family Law Specialists, Ponteland, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Twitter@majorfamilylaw   Tel: 01661 82 45 82