Brains are better than microchips

W. Curt Vincent Editor

Our country’s IQ has dropped exponentially and I blame technology.

That’s right … exponentially.

I used that word purposely, because I’m hoping the students who read this will immediately get the family dictionary out and look it up. Don’t Google it — that’s too easy.

And that, right there is the reason for this. Allow me to step on the soapbox.

In just the past few weeks, there have been individuals of various ages who have amazed me with their inability to figure things out on their own. No help from a calculator. No assistance from a computer website. No calling a friend — which I can only assume would be Siri.

And let me just say this … didn’t parents used to worry about their children if they had an imaginary friend? Not anymore. Now, children AND adults can sit on the couch talking with an imaginary friend named Siri, who isn’t real but will have conversations with whomever wants to select an accent and start chatting.

But back to the point here.

My wife and I were at a fairly nice, family type of restaurant not long ago enjoying a weekend meal. After dessert, our bill was delivered and I took it to the cashier. That bill was for $25.70 and I decided to just make it an even $30 to include the tip.

Mind you, I didn’t write the tip amount on the tip line. I simply wrote $30 on the bottom line. My bad.

The cashier, who was probably in her 30s, looked at me, then looked at the bill, scrunched her nose and wrote an amount on the tip line … $14.30.

Really? Yes, really.

Just a few days ago, I was in a store to purchase some back-to-school items. I was really hoping to get in and get out lickety-split, but that plan was doomed from the moment I stepped into the checkout line. The computers running the cash registers were down, so the cashier — a young guy who looked like he was still in high school — was trying to do the math every way he could think of.

Fingers (I watched this humorously).

Toes (I made this up … just because).

Writing numbers down (watched it with some interest).

In his head (assumed it, but also highly doubted it).

And finally, on his phone (by now in full annoyance).

When it was my turn, I’d already added up my purchases and told him the amount was $12.57 — without tax. He politely said he still had to add it himself, which he did. A few minutes later, he apologized and said he needed his phone. After punching in the numbers, he said to me, “That will be $12.57, sir.”


I suppose I could have paid the $12.57 and escaped, but I knew there was sales tax involved. So I mentioned that, and he again grabbed his phone and started punching in numbers. I was hoping he was familiar with multiplying the total cost with the tax correctly, but by now I was only interested in getting out of there. So when he looked up and proudly said, “it’ll be $13.45,” I quickly handed him $15.

Oh my … and that created yet another snatching of the phone, punching in numbers and counting out the right change.

Now, I’m no math wizard by any stretch, but in my younger days it was mandatory — by the age of 10 — we be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide in our heads. Quickly. Calculators were forbidden in classrooms and using fingers and toes anywhere in public was cause for ridicule.

But over the years, that has changed drastically. There are now phones, computers, cash registers, iPads and whatever that do all of the work for us. Thinking on our own is voluntary — almost unnecessary. About the only way left to make things easier for the next generation is by having technology do the work simply by reading our minds for the question.

I can still remember my grandfather saying many times as he helped me with my math homework, “well, let’s dope it out.” It’s just a shame to me that children nowadays don’t look to their elders for assistance like my generation did.

Instead of doping it out, they just talk to Siri.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]

W. Curt Vincent Editor Curt Vincent Editor