Bill is at a wine bar on Saturday night, enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir.
After striking up a playful conversation with Lisa (who prefers Syrah), he asks for her telephone number. Lisa agrees to Bill’s request, and he creates a new “contact” in his cell phone.
“No,” Lisa stops Bill. “You’ll have to memorize it. I don’t want you to write it down.”
Bill accepts the challenge and confidently repeats the 10-digit number a few times aloud. Lisa proceeds to talk about her cat Nibbles for an hour and then leaves the bar after she realizes how late in the evening it has become.
By the next day, Bill has forgotten Lisa’s phone number. He remembers how much Nibbles loves playing with yarn because he used to have a cat that loved yarn … and although he wants to send Lisa a text message, her digits weren’t meaningful to him.
The same thing happens when you memorize the definitions of two similar words instead of learning how to use them.