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Column Classic: Hard-Wired

by Lisa Scottoline

There was an article in the newspaper the other day that scared me.

No, it wasn’t about carbohydrates.

It was about our brains, and the gist was that by going online and cruising lots of different websites, we’re actually changing the wiring in our brains, and this will result in an inability to concentrate and…


Where was I?


Uh oh.

This is bad news.  Five minutes ago, I was supposed to be working, but I took a break to go online.  I stopped at all my favorite gossip websites, like,, and the, then I moved onto and

I’m not making that last one up.  It’s about fashion, as you would guess if you knew how fussy I am about which sweatpants to wear.

I also visit work-related websites, like and, and I post on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Friend me.  Follow me.  This way we can get to know each another without changing out of our sweatpants.

I make lots of other local stops on my train ride through the Internet, and my track winds around and around in circles, does a few loop-de-loops, zooms around a cloverleaf and spells out CALL ME, GEORGE CLOONEY before it returns to the station.

And this will mirror the wiring in my brain?

I’m tempted to say it’s mind-blowing, but that’s the point.

Plus it’s unfair, because the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.  Everybody deserves a break from work now and then, according to federal law and McDonald’s. 

You deserve a break today.  At least six times today.

So how can it be fair that what you do during your break can break your brain?

That’s like making a funny face and having your face freeze that way.  And if you ever wished that on anybody, I hope you’re happy now.  Our brains are all messed up because of you. 

The article even had a Test Your Focus interactive, so I took the test, which involved red and blue bars in various formations.  I went with my best guess between Yes and No, and scored a  -.33 %, which seemed pretty good to me, considering that I didn’t understand the directions.

I couldn’t concentrate.

To make things worse, imagine you’re a middle-aged woman.

Stop screaming. 

It’s not funny.

It takes a real man to be a middle-aged woman.

If you follow.

Anyway, all middle-aged women know that something happens to the brain after fifty years of age.  I even read an article about it, but I can’t remember where.  Or someone told me, what’s-her-name.  And I think the article said something about declining hormone levels causing a decrease in brain function.  It talked about menopause creating confusion, a wandering mind, and “brain fog.”

Or something like that.

It was hard to pay attention.  At the time, I was daydreaming.

About you-know-who.

Also I like my fog in the air, not between my ears.  Weather, stay out of my head.

To return to topic, all I know is, menopause is bad news, brain-wise. 

Consider the implications. 

What this means is that those of us at a certain age have a double whammy, when it comes to the computer.  In other words, if you’re cruising the Internet without estrogen, you should stop right now. 

Step away from the laptop. 

You won’t understand anything you read.  And even if you did, you won’t remember it.

You’re a goner, cognitively speaking.

You’ll fare no better, offline.  One of the articles said that brain fog can roll in at anytime, and “women find themselves often worrying whether or not they have forgotten to turn the iron off.”

Heh heh.

Silly women, who forget to put the butter churn away, or leave their darning needles all over the floor, where the unwary can step on them, getting a hole that needs…darning?

Darn it!

Well, I, for one, never worry about turning the iron off, because I never turn the iron on.  In fact, I don’t own an iron.  And between the iron and the laptop, I’ll choose the latter.  In a pinch, you can press your sweatpants with a laptop.

Don’t ask me how I know.

Copyright © Lisa Scottoline.