Skip to main content

I tweet, therefore I am...

Dave and I caught up on an episode of Big Ideas last night, a lecture by Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield on the plasticity of the brain and how today's screen culture may be creating significant (not always positive) changes in brain development.

She strongly emphasised she was neither a Luddite, nor a technophobe, and that there were evident positives to children's, on average, 2000 hours of screen time (time in front of tv, computers, and hand held devices, including smartphones) per year, however, as she put it, with every gain, there is a loss, and often gains are actually outweighed by losses.

She explained that studies had shown a link between low frontal lobe activity in the brain and issues such as obesity, schizophrenia and reckless behaviour in people with acquired brain injury.  Basically, she said that people who live in a highly sensory oriented way, tend to live more for the NOW, for the moment, and the pleasure of the moment, and be damned the consequences.  Screen based technologies, because they are only able to stimulate two of our senses (sight and hearing) require high impact to compensate for the lack of smell, taste and touch input, to give us the dopamine deposit we seek when interacting with these media.

She said, while short term memory was on the rise, this was at the cost of cognitive higher functions, such as understanding metaphors.  She said it was pretty normal for a child not to understand a metaphor, however, more and more adolescents and adults were unable to grasp these higher order cognitive concepts, in essence, childhood is prolonged by extended exposure to screen based technologies.

She went on to talk about something she called "existential crisis", where by, over time, with the evolution of social networking communities people, adults, were reverting back to the toddler stage...  Many of you will be familiar with the following scenario.

Mummy, look what I made?
Oh, that's lovely sweetheart.
Mummy, I'm making a drawing now.
Yes, dear.
Mummy, look what I drawed.
Oh, that's beautiful.
Mummy, I put my sock on.
Mummy, I put my other sock on, look mummy!
Yes, dear.
Mummy, I put my pants on.
...Yes, dear...

So, how familiar is this, then...

Sitting in a cafe, drinking a latte...
Oh, yum, sounds nice.
Oooh, that waiter is hot!
Better get back to work.
Just got a call from Jack, he's such a dick!
LOL, he sure is!
Geez, I'm tweeting a lot today!
Ok, better do something other than send a million tweets, Bye!
Have a great day! 
[several hours later] Wow, I haven't tweeted all day!  I must have a life!

Spot the difference?  No, not really...  Greenfield says sending status updates has become a way of validating ourselves.  I tweet, therefore I am.  If I don't tweet, do I really exist? Furthermore, if I don't tweet, I must point that out to prove I existed while I wasn't tweeting.

I've seen people become irrationally upset because they were unfriended on Facebook or Twitter, and in the light of last night's viewing, I wonder if that isn't because they feel they cease to exist for other people if their status updates at no longer read by those people, however mundane they may be (the updates, not the people).  I certainly realised I have check my own feelings about "friendships" that are based almost wholly in a digital world.  Are friends you almost never see in person and cannot exchange 80% of all communications with (that portion which is non-verbal), are those people really friends?  Or are you merely the cave wall of which bounces the echo of their voice, telling them they really do exist?

In any case, I now find myself reading tweets and often thinking, "I tweet, therefore I am" about tweets that are nothing more than, 'notice me, acknowledge that I exist, even if I'm just sitting in a cafe perving at a waiter...'


Popular posts from this blog

The symbolism of elephants...

Just recently I've been seeing and noticing elephants everywhere!

A few weeks ago I saw the Samsung Elephant Ad, and watching that led me to watching a video with an elephant painting (seriously, you have to watch it to believe it!).

Then last night the boys told me they were having a free dress day at school to raise money for 'Mali the Elephant' - who turned out to be a paper maché statue which the children will paint and then show around the council before it comes back to the school to stand outside the performing arts room.

Then this morning I followed a link from Twitter to Toushka Lee's blog and read this post about an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka.

This morning the Grumpy Old Man did another driving test and unfortunately didn't pass. We've booked his next test and are looking forward to that now. About ten minutes before he walked in the door I saw this poster on Facebook...

At the time, I didn't know if the Grumpy Old Man had been successful or …

Alone... And Stuff...

Do you ever just need to be alone?

As the boys are growing up, we have more times when the house is quiet. The youngest will be asleep. One will be reading, one will be playing on his computer with headphones on, one will be painting and there is stillness.

Sometimes, even that is not enough.

Sometimes I crave being alone, with no possibility of someone suddenly realising they have to tell me something important or ask me a question or even just crash about in the kitchen.

Sometimes I crave S P A C E, lots and lots of space, being able to walk from room to room without encountering another soul.

This is how I felt when I woke up this morning, so instead of getting ready for work, I decided to stay home. Get up, but not go anywhere, no hear the sound of my own voice, or anyone else's.

I think this might just be part of getting older. After a lifetime of chasing after other people and trying not to be alone, my mind and body is full of thoughts, experiences, feelings, and busy-ness …

12 Things Happy People Do Differently - a self-reflection...

A few days ago a Facebook friend posted the above poster on her wall. I believe she got these points from this blog which she enjoys reading, and the bloggers on the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog derived their discussion of these points from this book, available on Amazon - you're welcome! I have to admit, I haven't read the blog or the book I've just mentioned but wanted my readers to have access to the sources of the poster for their own reflective purposes.
The New Year will be upon us in but a few days and I thought this a great opportunity to do a little personal assessment on how I'm playing the happy game. I'm often not very happy at all - I don't need to be happy all the time, let me just say that up front - I personally believe that life is a balancing act and those who seek euphoria often will also often feel desolation because in all things there must be balance. The great riches of the few on this planet come at the personal cost of the many as is …