And yet- more word vomit. This is written as it spews from my brain and has no order. Apologies in advance. There is no cohesion. It’s more like… a rant? No…… yep word vomit is appropriate. Again, apologies. Perhaps, you should not even read this.
You learn quickly that I am a spastic, ADHD, intellectual, and fueled-by-chaos kind of human if you spend more than half a second with me. My paranoia alarms go off with technology, but at the same time I love it. Isaac Asimov didn’t help things any. I have definitely seen and reaped the benefits of using a computer, Google, and the like. On the other hand, I also kind of feel like brain is mushier than it used to be. I also feel an overdependence on technology. It is also not lost on me how, for lack of a better word, pathetic it is that my roommates and I will sit in a room together with the television on and we will be on your phones talking to people outside of the room, playing Candy Crush, or just lingering on the Internet. Then again, my phone has saved me from forgetting numerous meetings, and it also serves as my archive for basically my life. It is almost like it is the physical form of Jonesy’s mental library from Stephen King’s “Dreamcatcher”. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about – Jonesy is a character from a sci-fi/horror novel where his friends and him each gained some sort of mental ability at a young age. Jonesy’s was the coolest. He could go into his brain as if it were a physical library. He could research, throw things away, move file boxes around, and all sorts of other nifty things.
Each of the readings come from a different perspective regarding humans’ cognitive abilities, how technology has come into play, and if it is a good thing that it has. I appreciate where some of the arguments are coming from. For example, one author says this is just another step in the line of development that impacts cognition just like when a writing system came into existence. That, in fact, all we need to do is find a way to manage it and utilize it effectively. Others fear technology is taking over our cognitive abilities making us zombies. Meanwhile, one argues that computers and humans must work as partners for a more optimal result. I am not sure what I cognitively deduce about this, but I know what I feel. I feel that technology has helped us, but I feel it has separated us.
In the “Smarter Than You Think” article, the author says we are more socially aware regarding civic issues in the world. This is true, but at the same time, I am not sure this is making people actually DO anything. They just see the video/read the article, say “wow this is wrong” and keep going on with their lives. In some circumstances, the trolls crawl out of their dark caves and they decide to post their input. The same author brings up the question of if we are losing our humanity due to our reliance on computers. I am wishy-washy with my answer on this. Yes, we are losing our humanity. One need only to look at one case of cyberbullying to see that truth. I think this constant use of technology and exposure to everything, and being always “on” has numbed us to so much. Then again, these articles are focused more on technology’s impact on cognition, not on our affective states so that argument is moot here. I think more so though, that we are losing our cognitive ability to think for ourselves. Yes, we can be “centaurs” and work in partnership with a computer to be more than we can be, but at the same time, we are losing that confidence in ourselves to think independently and form our own thoughts. Instead, we google, read our friends’ posts accepting them as fact, etc. I agree that technology has made it possible for us to think ON it, like writing on paper or the long division example. I definitely depend on that to exist basically. A lot of people seem to inherently trust what they read on the Internet, and that bothers me. Here is where people are more the problem. Then again, is Googling not another form of me looking an answer up in a book?
I was a Communications major in my undergraduate life. I was told by several teachers that we future professionals control the message. This is true for user-generated content on the Internet, but again I know the debate lies more with how we use technology itself to think. I am not qualified to make an assessment with that. Really not. Again, I can only say what I feel. I feel like my generation and those before me started our lives off without these technological advances with the Internet and now we are adapting. Future generations will be born with it, and that is where it will be interesting to observe the cognitive abilities. I think we “older” folk are stuck at a precipice. The new generation’s brains will evolve with technology and know how to use it to think from the start instead of having to mentally reprogram. Whether this is good or not remains to be seen.
Nicholas Carr wrote an article asking if Google is making us stupid. I think that is a fair question in some ways. I do agree with the other readings that technology has helped us advance in some ways, but I also think things like Google have made us overreliant on technology, like we can’t exist with out it. Like we can’t answer a question without it. I have heard the following sentence from so many different people it’s amazing: “I don’t know. I am going to Google it”.
Side note: Nicholas Carr used the character, Hal, as an example in his “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” article. From a movie buff perspective, Hal is a terrifying example to use on readers. Hal makes people want to never trust computers or technology again. Just saying.
Then there’s the conversation as to what all of this has to do on ADHD and multi-tasking. I see where Carr is coming from when he mentions that he is no longer to make it through 2 or 3 pages of a book. It does not take long for me to be distracted by a shiny object if you will. In fact, as I was writing this, I had to play several games of Candy Crush (I am a grand master of Candy Crush), watch a Youtube clip (not school-related), play with my cats, get a snack (an apple), and check my emails (all junk). On top of that, I am basically incapable of reading over this post again to make sure it is actually logical. Soooooooo, here’s hoping it either makes enough sense for a reader to get through it, oooooor people’s technologically-induced ADHD and multi-tasking habits have them skim this so that they can produce some half-hearted comment at the end. In terms of multi-tasking, it is evident that all I do is multi-task, and I confess I am not nearly as productive because of this and my ADHD. I personally however cannot blame these attributes on technology. I have had these all of my life. Try having a conversation with me, it’s entertaining.
As for other people though, I have noticed a shift in some people. I cannot tell you if it is because of technology or not. There is only a correlation, not a causation. It doesn’t help any that our computers are so multi-faceted and our phones are mobile and as smart as our computers. I can tell you that PhD students are glued to their computers. I wonder if you compared today’s graduate students with those of the past. How would we compare? Is multi-tasking even a thing to compare? I think that is just a habit people develop no matter the era. How are our attention spans? How do our cognitive abilities match up? Can we do what they can do without a computer?
Anyway, basically this post has been about nothing, so hopefully you were doing something else at the time.