This week on the Sunflower blog we’re talking about technology and its potential to both enhance and complicate our lives. This is the first post in the series. Check out more thoughts on the subject from Victoria and Jaime.
Have you noticed that there are lots of questions about how the use of technology affects our lives in the media these days? Here is some of what I have been reading on the subject.
Although those who idolize or demonize the internet have voiced their viewpoints for two decades, Nicholas Carr added a huge spark to the current fiery dialogue in the summer of 2008. Found this date on Wikipedia.
It was then that The Atlantic published his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” He argues that our use of the internet might be detrimental to our cognition and negatively affecting concentration and the ability to think deeply. His latest book, “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to our Brains,” continues the argument and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Just started reading it on my Kindle.
A fascinating paperback presents a tsunami of answers to the Edge.org question for 2010, Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? Editor John Brockman posed the question to more than 150 of the world’s most influential minds. omg, my daughter- in- law just texted me that a tornado blew through her neighborhood!
How did they answer? Some excerpts:
“The sense of contrast between my online and offline lives has turned me back toward prizing the pleasures of the physical world. I now move with more resolve between each of these worlds, choosing one, then the other—surrendering neither.” Linda Stone, high tech consultant and former executive with Apple and Microsoft.
“The Internet is stealing our attention….A lot of what it offers is high-quality competition. But unfortunately, a lot …..is merely good at capturing our attention and provides us with little of long-term import- sugar filled carbonated sodas for our mind.” Rodney Brooks, MIT Professor of Robotics and author of Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us
“Answering this question should be a slam dunk, right? After all thinking about thinking is my racket. Yet I must confess to being perplexed. I am not even sure we have good evidence that the way humans think has changed by the advent of the printing press…” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Psychologist and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
The third book I have been reading is a hardcover, personally signed, real paper edition that feels and smells soooo good- Richard Louv‘s “The Nature Principle.” I posted an essay of his on Facebook last week. Here’s what Richard has to say about technology:
“The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need to achieve natural balance… Utilizing both technology and nature experience will increase our intelligence, creative thinking, and productivity, giving birth to the hybrid mind.” I explored this idea in an earlier blog.
I guess it’s easy to see my immersion in old (books) and new technology. Lol!
Let’s start our own dialogue. Are you an internet junkie? Addicted to your smart phone? Or do you purposely stay low tech? Is Facebook a lifeline or are you happy to do without? What do YOU think?
© Susan Caruso and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011
I can’t stand Facebook, I like blogs, I can be accused of wasting time on the Internet, but no more than my mother used to waste time watching hours of soap operas every day. At least I’m (somewhat) talking to “real” (as far as I know) people and not to made-up TV characters. I still have a stupid phone, on purpose, because when I’m out of the house I don’t want to feel tethered to the web and email (I have a cell phone only in case one of my older children gets sick at school), and it bugs me every time I see a parent at the playground ignoring a toddler while immersed in a phone.
Amy, I know what you’re saying about seeing parents engrossed in their phones while ignoring their kids.
I was recently at the park with some friends. While we were there, a couple of new kids came up with (I’m assuming) their mom. I didn’t actually meet the mom, aside from a quick hello, but she spent the whole time checking her phone and reading a Kindle. Meanwhile my friend and I spent that time playing with all the kids (with her kids)–hide and seek, swinging; we watched the sunset–it was a great day at the park.
Now these kids were school-age, more than old enough to play on their own, so the mom didn’t technically have to engage tons of her attention with them, but still… I think a lot about what all that mom missed *right in front of her eyes* while her attention was absorbed with all that technology. I also think a lot about the times when I’ve been just like her. What have I been missing?
Amy, I do feel tethered sometimes. I try not to be that mom, always checking her phone and ignoring both kids AND adults. (You’ll hear more about this in tomorrow’s post). And like Jaime, I sometimes wonder if I’m missing out by not participating more fully in what my kids are doing.
Sometimes, though, I find it helpful. I’m the organizer of a moms’ group, and during play dates, I often use my phone to see if anyone is running late. It’s common for the moms in the group to text one another with updates, schedule changes and so forth. If we know that someone decided not to come because her baby is napping, we don’t have to stand around waiting and watching for her.
A bold experiment! Am waiting for this from the library, sounds great. “The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone)Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale” by Susan Maushart
See, I’m not sure I’d trust myself with a phone that was connected to the Internet. When I’m with my husband, the pull to check my email on his phone is awfully strong, and I don’t like that in myself. Stubbornly keeping my simple phone is definitely a way for me to keep my focus where I feel it ought to be when I’m out in the world with my kids. (Because 99.9% of the time, when I’m out in the world, I have at least one kid with me.) I do try to keep in mind that I don’t know the story of that parent in the phone–maybe she works from home? or is trying to get volunteer calls done for the school fundraiser? or is waiting for a call from the pediatrician?–but ultimately, technology shouldn’t make it easier to ignore our families. Wasn’t it supposed to free up time for our families, way back when?