Monday, June 18, 2012

Fried Brains and Frenzied Souls

Today’s newspaper carried an interesting article titled “Electronics Overload” – which I thought was a serendipitous follow-up for my previous blog (“Summer” – see below), in which I touched on the behavioral and psychological drawbacks of too much empty electronic media, resulting in a tortured emptiness of soul.

Coincidentally, last week’s newspaper sounded the alarm about children spending 3 or more hours per day using the computer. The concern of that article was the dearth of physical activity.

The opening paragraph of today’s article certainly caught my attention: “Parents addicted to their electronic gadgets – and children who follow their example – stand to lose brainpower . . . .”

Losing brainpower is a scary prospect. According to the article, spending too much time using electronic media can “re-wire” your brain in detrimental ways, resulting in an inability to focus or think deeply. (So, now, I can attribute my struggles with a more or less constant state of distraction to cyberoverload rather than approaching Alzheimers. Hmmmmm. I am almost relieved.)

Two books were cited as sources: “Conquer CyberOverload” by Joanne Cantor, and “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr. Carr’s book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.

Describing some of the detrimental effects of too much use of electronic devices, Carr said, “We are welcoming frenziedness into our souls.” Our “capacity for concentration and contemplation” is being depleted, robbing us of “our ability to have certain kinds of thoughts and experiences – the kind of thoughts and experiences that have defined our humanity” – resulting in a “shallowness of thinking and relating.”

Loss of brainpower is bad enough, as it limits our ability to grasp things meaningfully and to communicate effectively. Loss of our ability to relate in deep and meaningful ways is probably even worse, as we become mechanical with our interactions: Less than fully human.

I haven’t read Cantor’s or Carr’s books yet, but I think I shall. I’ll keep you posted on what I glean from having done so.

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