Forgetting To Think

An illustration on a whiteboard that shows my wife and I riding on top of our dog, Rolo. It's not really related to this article, but I liked it so I included it

My wife asked me if we should watch a movie called The Menu recently, and I Googled "Should I watch The Menu?". After we watched it she asked me what I thought, and I Googled "The Menu reviews". She laughed and said "I'm not asking Google, I'm asking you!". I realised I've become a bit lazy when it comes to having my own thoughts. Like, why should I bother thinking when someone else has already done that for me?

There was a time not so long ago when it wasn't like this. If I didn't know something I'd have to think about it. If I wanted to know how a hair dryer worked I'd have to take one apart. Pondering for a little while is a lovely thing to do and it's a real shame I'm doing less of it. Figuring things out is very human, and becoming more reliant on Google for my thoughts is making me feel very not-human.

The other day I was spooning some olives out of a jar, something I've done many, many times before, when I noticed one of them still had its stone. It made me wonder how the pits are removed at scale and in a generally reliable way. I reached for my phone, ready to ask Google, but I stopped. Wouldn't it be interesting to just think about it first? I'm not a mechanical engineer, but if I had to design one of these pitting machines, what would it look like? It would likely be an over-complicated Heath Robinson-esque creation, but wouldn't it be fun to just give it a go?

I eventually moved on and started to prepare my lunch, but when I went to bed that night it came up again. There's a great big pile of olives, how on earth do you reliably remove the pit from each one?

The next day I began doodling some designs down and (I'm genuinely serious when I say this) it gave me such a rush. It's like my brain had become flabby and by exercising it I was rewarded with a dose of happy chemicals.

Having instant access to all human knowledge in our pockets is amazing—the idea of it would be unfathomable to humans even just a few decades ago. I would consider it a good thing overall, but like any sharp tool I think we should be treating with care. It's been far too easy for me to become dependent on the internet for everything in my life, even with my adult brain. I can't imagine how children can be expected to function as normal humans when companies are pouring billions of dollars into exploitative technologies designed to steal their attention.

It's all a bit depressing really. Before I go full "Old man yells at cloud", let me share with you my designs on the olive pitting machine (there's probably a word for it, but I didn't want to Google it). Everyone should try this thinking malarkey, it's great fun!

My doodle of how I think an olive pitting machine works. It shows a bit pot of olives with a hole at the bottom. The olives fall out of this hole and roll along a convery belt, giving them a consistent orientation so a device can punch out the pits.

If you're interested in how they're actually removed there's a video here. It's way better than my version, but maybe the real olives are the friends we made along the way?

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