Technology: The Dark Side of Efficiency, Part 2

A friend called herself lazy in telling me she replaced her laptop with her phone because the latter finishes her word for her as she types. I’d say that’s being efficient. But it is a fuzzy line between efficiency and laziness, isn’t it? Today’s family is surrounded by machines dedicated to saving us time because we really are so busy. I, notoriously so. My husband has come to see I honestly don’t have a New York Minute. So if you offer me something to maximize my time, I’m in (unless it has too many dizzying icons). But I wonder about the aggregate impact of a tech-dependent culture on our kids’ capacity to learn. How will children who’re used to commanding entertainment and sensory incitement at the touch of a button grow up to embrace endeavors that require simple patience and dogged commitment? It’s a concern I first explored in the Tiger Mother post that I find myself revisiting from different angles.

The boundless places we can go and things we can do in cyberspace are technology’s version of fast food. Speedy, convenient, satisfying service. Our powers on the internet embody the antithesis of what took time to clean, chop, simmer properly for health’s sake. Only there is no hassle of a drive-thru, the kids are behind the dash, and for many of them, it’s free. Not unlike the sugar they prefer over whole foods, their online fun is a saccharin pleasure. Not only does the body become sedentary, but the mind bears a direct impact and nourishment is not what it gets. Antisocial Networking, a 2010 NY Times article by Hilary Stout, mentions kindergarteners buried in their technological fixations during playdates. It relays the belief of researchers that brains will be rewired. It is common knowledge that sensory experiences grow and direct cognitive neural pathways. The implications for learning in the context of our tech-crazed culture are foreboding.

17 thoughts on “Technology: The Dark Side of Efficiency, Part 2

  1. Technology is certainly changing us, whether for the better or worse remains to be seen. Personally, I wouldn’t go back to a pre-technological age, and I am willing to accept “the dark side” in return for the benefits. But thinking about the downsides is always a good idea. It’s how we make informed choices and try to avoid the bad stuff.

  2. Agree with you, Steve. I don’t know anyone who WOULD go back – well, maybe one homesteading family, chuckle. Yes, it’s the informed decisions I feel need a reminder, especially when it comes to developing minds.

  3. In my Fiction Writing class my teacher told us about how “automatic” the world is becoming, how to take a picture we can just pick up a phone and it can focus for us and do all the work. He said this is very bad, and not good for the world of art.

    He also said it’s important to slow down, and do things yourself, manually. Some time after I bought a manual Typewriter, a Smith Corona, so that I can be slowed down and do things manually. It’s a much different writing experience than on the computer, I feel every word I put down.

    • Wow. I agree with everything you shared. The wow is for the Sm Corona. I remember when my parents got me one waaay back. That is so cool, how you feel each word you literally put on the page. I wonder how the typing affects your thinking as you write….

      • Last week there was a news segment on the radio about an extant group of typewriting writers. So interesting. Thought of you. Do you have a post where you talk about what the writing process is like for you?

      • Not off the top of my head. I mostly keep that stuff to myself (stingy, I know), though I’m sure I will write more about it down the line.
        I still want to see that documentary that is coming out called “Typewriter in the 21st century”, I believe that’s the title, but it basically deals with the growing number of artists that use typewriters. I guess not only am I among them but I find the movement pretty interesting as well.

    • The editor loved it. He said I put my finger on one of the most pressing, critical issues of our day in less than 2000 words. I was going to send it to CNN, etc, but he asked that I hold off until he prints it. Thanks, M.

  4. I’m glad to have the technology we have today. I believe it can enhance human creativity, but you have raised a strong point on the dark side. Television can be educational, but it is damaging the thinking capacity of our children who are in danger of living in fantasy world thinking that what they see is the norm when in fact people with a plan are trying to create a false norm. I believe the breakdown in the moral fibre of a nation is the result. The same goes for the computer. It can lead you into mind numbing wasted hours or you can use it to enhance knowledge and creativity. One of the major downsides of course is lack of exercise and I suppose that goes with your thought on labour saving devices too. However I’m sure we will continue to use our technology and need to learn to discipline ourselves to do so appropriately.

    • You’re almost forcing my hand, Ian. I feel compelled to design a “Most Faithful Daily Reader” award for you. Your closing thought encapsulates your comment very well. Technology has only begun. Everyone will be using it. Hec, I am – as a tech dud. I’m alarmed at how it’s become mandatory in much of the schooling – right down into the homeschool sector into the lives of families that partner with charter school; a lot of the testing must be on the computer, even for kindergarteners. I have a number of concerns about this, most notably EMFs, a serious unrecognized problem that poses great health risks.

      My post on the topic pending.

      • Haha! Fortunately I’m not into awards at all. I was surprised during one of my visits to Samyuk University in Seoul to pay a visit to their elementary school and see each elementary student had their own desktop computer and a rigid dose of activities to perform. That was several years ago. They probably have IPads now.

      • WOW. You would have much to enlighten me about Korea. Haven’t been back since I left at four. I appreciate snippets of updates like yours. Yes, their gadgets would be nice and small now. Disturbing. Concentrated radiation. But no one thinks about that. I warn people not to buy Korean cars. Just go Japanese (yes, I know of the Japanese occupation of Korea). But K has lead the global technology revolution.

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