Technology: The Dark Side of Efficiency, Part 4

Will kids accustomed to virtual magic tricks readily invite self-discipline, the handmaid of hard work? We express ourself through the click of likes and flurry of fingers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (not saying I object to your liking this post). Will the breeziness with which kids are talking online from a progressively younger age wear on their ability to articulate themselves on important matters? To frame an opinion, analysis, insight on literature, politics, faith? Navigating gizmos well does not mean you will be unable to communicate effectively. But obviously times have changed.

P1030705Life is far different today from the Prairie Days when, sun-up to sun-down, physical exertion and problem-solving called upon both young and old. Though limited schooling often gave way to marriage or a trade in the pioneer days, when children did study they did not read and write clipped thoughts. Those able to pursue an education learned proper grammar and speech, were taught to recite the history of their nation so they could understand their place in the world, joined the Great Conversation of literature. That is, students took in and engaged written works that were a complete thought. Edith Schaeffer said, “They need to love books, for books are the basis of literature, composition, history, world events, vocabulary, and everything else.”  There was an organic wholeness to the process of formal learning, of building the stamina called for in the training of the mind. Students did not have the option of flipping channels, websites, or even their own book pages every 30 seconds, dissatisfied with pictures or content that did not titillate. Rather than take the time to sit and drink in great works, more and more postmodern kids are looking to quench their thirst for visual excitement. The next hit. We don’t read LOTR and indulge our imagination anymore. We watch the epic and let the screen tell us what Middle-earth looked like. With each generation becoming literally more restless from the luxurious feast of options, how will it develop the patience needed to examine, ponder, question, argue, reason?

In his keen social commentary Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman teases out the effects of television viewing on the mind. In the briefest window of time, you can go from a news segment to a commercial to a soap opera, each presentation itself spliced plenty by dizzying action, noise, and change of scenes. The watching brain gets a string of disjointed messages that remain incoherent together. Postman asserts that the problem of television is not what we watch but that we do. I suggest that with the infinite number of channels procurable on YouTube alone now, not to mention the 3-D magnetism of so-called kids’ movies, what the mind experiences is like the discrete, disconnected, visual provocation of the TV – on amphetamines.

5 thoughts on “Technology: The Dark Side of Efficiency, Part 4

  1. well said. I agree with you technology has influenced every aspect of our lives and not for the better. It makes the world work more efficiently true indeed. But it also distracts us from what’s important. We don’t want to know our history instead we are interested in twitter updates. Instead of mastering complete sentences, we use txt-speak and shorthand. We don’t read books anymore, we read Facebook. I wish kids still got a classical education. The world would be better off.

    • FUNNY you say that!! Since homeschooling privately from the age of 4.5 yrs, my boy who just turned six, will be venturing forth on his formal schooling in August under the Classical model of education. Both at home with me and with a weekly support group, where the kids absorb the sweep of human history, grammar, Latin, through song and music. *Big Smile* (As a classics minor Ivy Leaguer, I studied Latin and Greek in the old days). Thank you for the follow. I do my best to stay in touch with my subscribers. Blessings!!

  2. Definitely I think TV has a certain type of effect on our brains – inherently, regardless of the quality of the content. It’s stimulating to the mind and not in the right sort of way.

    That said, I do differentiate between types of content as well and we do watch TV sometimes.

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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