September 24, 2012
“Are we acting crazy?’ is a question Larry D. Rosen asks in the opening pages of his new book- iDisorder. My answer is: “Absolutely!”
Curiosity and a need to understand why we are so nuts, – has led me into an investigation of technology’s impact upon our world and culture. Since people don’t seem to have time to write letters anymore, I decided to explore what exactly folks are doing with their time.
There are many good books out there commenting on this subject.
In The Shallows- What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, I learned that our obsession with technology has actually diminished our ability to concentrate, read “deeply” and think critically. The fast paced editing and visual explosion of simultaneous images that the Internet presents is remolding the human mind with a shorter attention span and a predisposition towards multiple distractions. The author calls this state of mind: “The Juggler’s Brain.”
iDisorder- Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold On Us by Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D., gets rather clinical about these changes. Rosen cautions that our gadgets are creating disorder-like symptoms in the human psyche that mirror conditions such as attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, narcissistic tendencies, depression, somatic disorders: anorexia and bulimia…just to name a few! Rosen’s approach is clinical, yet he does offer us tips to rescue and reclaim our emotional and mental balance.
You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Lanier -is a book whose title comforted me. It was the first book I picked up on this subject. Lanier is known as the father of virtual reality. He was a prime mover in the development of the Internet. Now, that the Jeannie is out of the bottle, he argues that we need to remember our humanity and individuality, lest we become just another member of the “Numb Mob!”
My favorite book thus far is Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together- Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. This book opened my mind with the broadest perspective to the world of gadgets. From robots to androids, to Second Life to the World of Warcraft to True Confessions…to all the various ways we technologically “tether” ourselves with texting, Instant Messaging, Facebook, MySpace, GPS, apps… I like the word “tether,” it feels so appropriate.
Alone Together brings to the foreground through multiple interviews just how technology is impacting all ages, but especially today’s youth, the generation that is being raised on these gadgets. It is easy to see that these kids are stressed. Managing the social demands of all these gadgets is an enormous burden and it is very time consuming. My heart soared when I read that some young people are opting for a technology fast. They are writing letters and attempting phone conversations and face-to-face encounters! WOW!!!
Technology is not going away. To say we are addicted doesn’t help the situation when so much of our modern world depends upon computers. What’s needed is balance. Sherry Turkle believes that the future of technology will be determined by upcoming generations. I’m hopeful that when the dust settles, humanity will be once again in the driver’s seat!