Frustrated expats who’ve ever written pinyin on their hanzi exam can take consolation in the fact that many Chinese are forgetting their characters too. A China Youth Daily survey revealed that most Chinese frequently forget how to write certain words, a result of over reliance on digital devices, USA Today reports:
Almost 99% admitted to forgetting how to write words in a survey reported by the China Youth Daily newspaper in August. For many Chinese, proud of their ancient and complex writing system, such amnesia spells crisis.
The culprit appears clear in a country increasingly hooked on digital devices. Instead of writing out by hand the many strokes they learned through endless repetition at school, most Chinese these days write characters on cellphones and computers by typing in pinyin, the system that uses Roman letters to write Mandarin based on pronunciation.
Even Chinese teachers are not immune.
“I myself also forget how to write some hard words” says Cui Shuang, 30, a teacher of Chinese at Beijing No. 56 Middle School, whose 14- and 15-year-old students are similar in age to the contestants.
And it’s not a just a China problem. Studies have shown that the internet and electronic devices have made everyone dumber around the world, shortening attention spans and memory, and decreasing our capacity for abstract thinking. Basically, every Sci Fi movie ever made was right, and machines are taking over the world.