I went to a bar to play team trivia with my family last week. It was extremely fun but also eye-opening. It’s not that I discovered how much I didn’t know – I already was aware of that. But what kept hitting me in the face was how often I started to reach for my iPhone (which is, of course, verboten) to answer a question. Who was the last governor to be elected vice president? Which writer did Salma Hayek play in a movie? Questions like that are so easy to answer with any gadget that’s connected to the Internet. But since you can’t do it in a trivia game, you have to fall back on an older resource – your brain.
So, I found myself in that old-fashioned position of wracking my brain and discussing the options with my teammates. It wasn’t easy for many of the questions, but I felt a sensation I don’t often feel anymore. I was dredging up trivial old memories and associations that were often buried quite deep in my psyche. It was actually strenuous! I could feel the wrinkles on my face deepening. And it seemed particularly odd when I knew answer was sitting right there in my purse. It reminded me a bit of when kids first learn to play soccer and they have to work hard holding back on using their hands.
Some people might say it’s a waste of time to struggle for answers that are readily available. But I think endeavors like this are good exercise for our brains from time to time. They involve our logical abilities and they stir up associations that may be useful in other contexts – you may discover a metaphor you could use in an upcoming presentation, or an idea for a novel marketing approach, or who knows, a research idea or new product!
Just as our bodies need to exercise all our parts to remain young and vital, our brains can use an old-fashioned workout on a regular basis. So when you’re trying to remember something that’s available on the Internet, give your own brain a try first, before handing the problem over to you phone.