Does technology make me smarter or just lazy?

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I love reading dictionaries.  I hope that by reading them new words will soak into my brain and flow into a sentence on a page.   But how do I read a software application such as Dictionary.com?  Is dictionary reading becoming a lost pleasure? 

Dictionary.com is an online service with over 50 million users.  The Oakland, CA based company claims that it is the “destination for learning” and the “must visited online dictionary”.   Their free dictionary and thesaurus are on  my “Favorites” list on my browser.  Probably the most used. 

 Mostly, I use the application to help me with spelling.  Using spell check on my PC over  the years has made me such a poor speller that many times spell check cannot find the word that I am attempting to use.   So I have to look it up the old fashioned way.

 I recently downloaded Dictionary.com to my Smartphone.   The Smartphone version has a voice recognition feature.  Press the little microphone icon, say the word and magic happens.  The word pops up complete with pronunciation key, part of speech and its meaning.  No pulling the dictionary from the bookshelf, thumbing to the right section and getting distracted on other words.   What’s not to like about this terrific time saver?

But I have a dilemma. Each time I use this app, I feel like I am cheating.  I mean what would Mrs. Robertson, my sixth grade teacher, say?  When faced with spelling a word correctly, Mrs. Robertson and my mother taught me, “Look it up, that way you will remember how to spell the word the next time you use it.”   Their logic worked for me until I started using spell check.  

 I have a friend who incorporates philosophy in her journal of day to day living.  When I use my dictionary application on my PC and Smartphone, I think of her.

 Am I being lazy?  Is dictionary .com allowing me to take short cuts that will make my brain lazy?  Like spell check, is it an enabler allowing me to cheat on finding the correct spelling of a word?   

Or, am I being smart? Let the machines perform this mundane task to allow me to think about more lofty things like blogging.

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