Thinking

These scenes are so common that some version of it has likely happened to — or been observed by — most of our readers.

Two acquaintances meet on the street. After exchanging pleasantries, one of them declares to the other, “It is so bashert that I met you. I am looking for your married son’s cellphone number, as I wanted to ask him something important.”

The other man stops, thinks and then pulls out his cellphone.

“I have it on speed dial,” he explains, “so I never memorized it.”

We forget how to remember.

An elderly passenger enters a car service and states the address she wishes to go to. The streets and avenues all are numbers rather than names, and it doesn’t take much calculation to figure out how to get to the destination. Yet the driver types the address into Waze. The street he is on is free of traffic and would be an ideal route, but instead, he turns left into a particularly congested avenue, because that is the instruction his device is giving him.

We forget how to think.

At the workplace, individuals are so accustomed to using the internet as their primary source of data that they no longer even make an attempt to remember information. Nor do they even stop to analyze whether the website they have been directed to is being held to any degree of accuracy, but rather copy and paste the words and deal with the repercussions later.

We forget how to use our analytical skills.

Even some veteran writers admit that their spelling skills have weakened considerably, as they rely on Microsoft Word to make sure their words are spelled right.

We forget how to memorize.

This phenomenon has even spilled over into the types of reading material preferred by the youth, as colorful comics — in which the entire story is played out in vivid graphics — replace traditional text.

We are raising a generation deprived of the ability to use their own imaginations. 

In short, we have forgotten how to think.

One would have thought that the myriad technological advances that have filled our lives with conveniences would have left us with more time to use our minds. Yet the opposite has occurred. The world of instantaneous communication has caused so many people to be enslaved to devices they bought themselves. They are expected to respond to emails and text messages from early morning until late at night, from employers and customers alike, leaving no time for thinking or remembering.

What we must take great care not to forget is about the One Who never forgets, and needs neither GPS nor any other technological tools to run the world and rule over all His creations, but was the One who gave mankind the ability to invent them.   

As we prepare for Yom Kippur, this is an appropriate time to make a conscious effort to take back control of our lives, to start using the incredible gift of human intelligence that the Ribbono shel Olam gave us — and to start thinking again.

May all of Klal Yisrael merit a gmar chasimah tovah.