THE INTERNET AND OUR MINDS

Is the enormous volume of information that swamps our minds today good or bad for us?  Hard to know.  Jonah Lehrer in his NYTImes article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/science/15fath.html?ref=science  argues that we cannot possibly know for certain, at least not now. 

He points to the history of communications.  Every new technology was greeted by enormous fears that our intellectual capabilities would be damaged.  From the printing press, to radio, TV and movies. Critics would point to the devastating effects on the human mind.  Every new technology offered threats to that effect.  Clearly, in hindsight, this has not been the case.

 But ultimately what we have always experienced is change.

Change can be either beneficial or damaging to us.  It is inherently neutral. 

Clearly we can make the best use of new technology.  Yet just as clearly periods of transition are fraught with difficulties.  Will we loose the ability to write traditional letters–perhaps.  Will we obsess over the continual bombardment of news, most of it bad?  Perhaps.   Will we lose our sense of privacy and peace when we continually check our emails, text messages and tweets?  Perhaps.

What remains to be seen is how we navigate these strange waters.  The tendency to be overwhelmed and obsessed with new technology will hopefully be balanced by the realization that it is just a tool which needs to be understood and seen in perspective.

It is a challenge, like those before it, which will find its place within our culture.

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