I’ve been studying for the GRE recently, and I’ve noticed something troubling: My brain does not work as well as it used to.
Back in the day, I could shred vocab and reading comprehension questions like a bitchin’ metal guitar solo. I might even smash the computer and throw my No. 2 pencil into the crowd for good measure.
But things have changed. Now, when I read the sample passages in my Kaplan GRE study book (which are invariably about something hideous like creationism or thermodynamics), my eyes glaze over. The words do not enter; they do not compute. Nothing connects in a meaningful way.
Granted, the passages are poorly and dryly written, intended to create confusion and clusterfuckery. But that does not get me off the hook on having to answer multiple-choice questions about the passage’s topic and scope, its implied limitations, and the specific functions of certain sentences.
This is a problem. Allow me to illustrate why:
Oil on water.
My brain is the water. The information is the oil. It skims the surface but is not absorbed. I’m not sure why this chemical reaction (or lack thereof) is rocking my skull, but I partially blame Google.
I no longer rely on my own knowledge to navigate life, because I possess the vast wisdom of the ages: Within ten seconds, I can tell you who won the 1979 World Series, the exact temperature in Madagascar, and whether or not my weird neck pain is a sign of cancer (hint: everything is a sign of cancer).
Don’t get me wrong, I like having the internet at my fingertips, and I believe it does more good than harm. But it also prevents me from puzzling out solutions to my own problems.
Case in point: A few months ago, my boyfriend and I were sitting at Latte Land trying to remember all 12 signs of the zodiac.
“I’ll just google it,” I said, reaching for my phone.
Instead, he handed me a piece of paper and a pen. It took nearly 20 minutes, but the information I needed was locked away in the depths of my headcaves (most likely from that summer I got a detailed astrological reading from a guy who said I was a spirituality-seeking rebel who would probably wind up in jail at some point).
The fruits of my labor. This may or may not be hanging on my fridge.
I’ve become accustomed to the instant gratification of knowing the right answer right away, and that’s why studying — or focusing on anything for longer than three minutes at a time, including this blog I’m writing — has become so difficult.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to google “time-saving study tips.”