Friday, November 11th, 2011

In The Beginning…

In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment.Thomas Carlyle•

One thing I’ve learned, through both painful and positive experience, is that the successful flourishing of any project, product, event… or person, is seeded right at the beginning. Imagine setting off in a boat with the intention of sailing to a distant island, but having miscalculated your route by even just a tiny degree: everything will seem fine and dandy for awhile, maybe even for days. But as those tiny degrees of misdirection exponentially add up over many miles, you will at some point realize you are ending up far from where you wanted to be.

A mantra from chaos theory goes, “Sensitive dependence on initial conditions.”

This applies whenever something new is brought into being: cookies, crops, houses, stories, songs, sweaters, people. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Wired Wednesdays: Curses, My Phone Won’t Wink

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace

My ex-husband*, our two grown kids and I recently switched from AT&T to Verizon for our cell service. [*A marriage may end, but a family cellular plan goes on!] In the process I got a new free LG smartphone.

As I was familiarizing myself with my new phone—blessedly similar to my former Android—I was bummed to discover that it doesn’t have a notification light. You know, that little blinker that alerts you that you have notifications? Even from across the room?

I couldn’t believe it. I went online to read reviews of my smartphone, and sure enough, I saw that this was other folks’ main (and mostly only) complaint about this phone: no notification light.

Well, it only took a day or so for me to realize I was relieved to have suffered this kind of personal tech “regression.” My device would no longer be winking and blinking at me, beckoning me to “Pick me up, light me up. Press my buttons. Let me manipulate your brain chemicals!”

And as timing would have it, I stumbled upon this article that same week.

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Huzzah! Now I had expert corroboration that my missing blinking smartphone light is a GOOD thing:

Endocrinologist Robert Lustig tells Business Insider that notifications from our phones are training our brains to be in a nearly constant state of stress and fear by establishing a stress-fear memory pathway.

As someone who wrestles with lifelong PTSD from childhood trauma, I don’t need any extra stress-fear pathways! Or, anything to make me jumpy or jittery:

Brand new research on dozens of smartphone users in Switzerland also suggests that staring at our screens could be making both our brains and our fingers more jittery.

And I always love reading about research findings that surprise scientists, like this:

In research published this month, psychologists and computer scientists have found an unusual and potentially troubling connection: the more tapping, clicking and social media posting and scrolling people do, the “noisier” their brain signals become. That finding took the researchers by surprise. Usually, when we do something more often, we get better, faster and more efficient at the task.

If you’re curious—and be curious, be very curious—read on.

Business Insider: This is what your smartphone
is doing to your brain…and it isn’t good

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

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Monday, March 19th, 2018

The Missing Vagina Monologue: Own Your Super-Power!

The Missing Vagina Monologue | Marcy Axness, PhDI’ve been burying the lead, as they say, for some months now: I have joined the faculty of New Earth University, an international community that brings together creative curriculum, conscious collaboration and meaningful resources into a gorgeous, paradigm-shifting learning model.

This development really deserves its own post, and life has simply been too busy to attend to that. For now I’ll just share my latest blog at NEU–a deeply personal reflection on my disappointment 16 years ago upon seeing The Vagina Monologues, and my opportunity, finally, to put it in writing and perform it as a “Spotlight” monologue during our community’s recent V-Day run of performances. (We closed just last night!)

My thoughts clearly plucked a chord within many women in our audiences, as you can see in these Facebook comments. Their desire to pass it on to future generations is the best praise I could ever hope for! Here it is, for you:

Claiming Our Super-Power

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Master of Your iDomain: Who Controls Your Attention?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace At the end of each issue of my favorite weekly news digest The Week is a 2-page section called “The last word.” It features a substantive (polite word for “long”) piece of extraordinary writing. In the final issue of last year they ran this article on digital life and attention by Craig Mod, a must-read for folks mindful enough to wonder about the effects digital dependence has on something as intangible as your attention.

Neuroplasticity (the ability–nay, propensity–of our brains to change in response to experience) has been one of the most exciting scientific revelations of the past generation. It is what allows for some of our most inspiring human capacities, like emotional healing and personal reinvention.

And now, neuroplasticity is leveraged by digital engineers to guide your handheld device behavior by manipulating your neurochemistry. Think I’m being dramatic or leaning on hyperbole? Check out “Brain Hacking: Hijacking You From the Inside” featuring Anderson Cooper’s sobering 60 Minutes segment. (And if you tend toward conspiracy thinking, you might want to skip Mod’s section discussing his awareness of cunningly shifting algorithms during his Clash of Clans experience. Omg.)

I offer you this beautifully expressed article (originally from BackChannel/Wired) as a New Year’s gift — a palette-cleanser after a rough past year, and some inspiration (if even just vicarious) toward reclaiming sovereignty over something we’ve always taken for granted,  something unspeakably valuable: our attention.

How I Got My Attention Back

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

iMPATIENCE and iMPULSIVENESS: Deadly Effects of Wired Life?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

This one’s personal, folks. It’s one thing to recognize the discouraging association between smartphones and impatience, and it’s a whole other thing to experience that impatience on a daily basis in a potentially deadly way.

Creeping along a clogged-up patch of the 101 freeway on a recent trip to Los Angeles, I was gob-smacked to see how many drivers around me were flagrantly texting – nothing covert or sneaky about it! Phones were right up in front of their faces, and apparently their one free hand — or maybe a knee — was steering.

I witnessed it in the lanes on either side of me, in the car in front of me, in my rear-view… seemingly all around me. It was like that classic scene out of any B horror movie: everywhere the bedeviled heroine looks, a monster looms!

But we were all moving in the same direction, we were all moving slowly, and I could change lanes to navigate away from these folks.

In the remote forest community where I live, none of those mitigating circumstances apply on the 2-lane mountain highway we all must drive to go anywhere. To the left is a particularly infamous little section called The S-Curves. But in reality, the entire road out of our village features continuous blind curves and therefore solid double yellow lines all the way.

The point of my discussion today isn’t the horribly dangerous epidemic of texting while driving, as in my above 101 Fwy example. That’s a conversation for another day. What’s been weighing heavy on my mind the past many months is the suspicion that our culture’s increasingly wired life is making (mostly young) people less patient and more impulsive in general — not just when they’re online. For example, when they’re driving our 2-lane road. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Digital Dependence: Our Ridiculous Addiction?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

This whole issue of how entranced and attached we are to our smartphones — and to the social media they link us to — is soooo challenging and touchy, isn’t it? I think because at some level we suspect that, even though the technology that has put them in our hands is extraordinarily brilliant, far from being a magnificent obsession, it’s a ridiculous addiction.

We don’t usually think in terms of ridiculous addictions. Addiction is serious. Addiction is complex. And boy is this addiction a tough one to detangle and get much of handle on.

We don’t usually think of addiction and humor going together. But in this case I think that sometimes humor can be a wonderful mirror in which we can begin to let our guard down and let some recognition in. As the saying goes, “More truth is said in jest.” Can humor help us recognize our ridiculous addiction?

Here are two recent amusing mirrors. The first are scenes from a recent episode of Grey’s AnatomyRead the rest of this entry »

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Talking to Children About Tragedy

Talking to Children About Tragedy | Marcy Axness, PhD

It seems parents are confronted with increasing regularity with this question in the wake of unspeakable tragedy: How do I tell my child about this?

Do we follow our natural instinct to protect them, and say as little as possible, couching what we do say in bubble-wrapped terms? Is that the way to help a child feel secure?

On the day of 9/11, a friend who was wiser than me said something along these lines to her (then 12-year-old) daughter after she woke her up that morning: “There’s been a big incident in New York. Two airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers.” As Laura explains to me now, “I only transmitted the sadness, and not a big amount of alarm.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Digital Mastery: Parents, You Have the Power!

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace My main concern in this exploration is the effect of digital dependence upon our social intelligence. You see, fostering robust development of the brain circuitry responsible for social intelligence is a key focus of Parenting for Peace. Self-regulation and inner mastery are key themes in this endeavor of raising a generation of peacemakers.

From where we sit in today’s volatile world aswirl in disasters both natural and manmade, these words from the early pages of my book are chillingly relevant:

Many fields of research tend to affirm that we humans are indeed at a crucial moment in our evolution, and our survival is going to depend upon our realizing, deeply, that our true security is rooted in connectedness, in our relationships, in healthy interdependence with our fellow humans and with our natural environment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Digital Dependence: Is the Smartphone Generation Ruined?

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace Today I’m spotlighting an essential article about the current smartphone generation in the September issue of The Atlantic: “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The author* is Jean Twenge, a psychologist who studies generational characteristics and the influences that have created significant differences between generations.

[*I forgive her the doomsday title, since she most likely didn’t write it; usually it’s the editorial department who crafts a title that will grab readers.]

Dr. Twenge actually played a key part in Parenting for Peace: though not in the actual book, I referenced her important work in my book proposal. A book proposal is a booklet-length document carefully crafted to make a case that convinces a publisher that your book is even worth publishing. Here is a passage from my (never before published) book proposal, back when my working title (little-known P4P trivia) was Raising Generation PAX: Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Digital Dependence: A (Funny) Picture’s Worth 1000 Bloggy Words

Today’s a quickie, as I’ve just returned from a week on the other coast, celebrating my son’s 30th birthday. I’m leaning upon BoredPanda today, and their “20 Satirical Illustrations Show Our Addiction to Technology.”

This one’s called “Modern Tan.”

 

Make no mistake — some of these are hard-hitting and downright chilling. They quite brilliantly push us to think in different ways about our digital dependence and what I may be doing to us.

I’d love to hear if you have a favorite — do please post in Comments. (As for me, I’m a sucker for a cartoon from the New Yorker… and there’s one of those on the first page. I’m also partial to #2, #5 and #7.) See what you think!

 

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

Stay in the Wired Wednesdays Loop:

I’ll Notify You About New Posts

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Birthing & Vaccines: Are We *REALLY* Independent?

Birthing & Vaccines: Are We *REALLY* Independent? | Marcy Axness, PhD

Anyone with a pulse and a Facebook feed knows that America is a country painfully divided — about our leadership, our economy, our values and place in the world. We’re also deeply divided over our beliefs about how to birth, raise, and educate our children… and keep them healthy in the process. Believe me, aside from the current political situation, few topics generate more polarization at a friendly backyard barbecue than epidural risks or mandated vaccines.

I don’t mean to be a buzz-kill, truly I don’t. It’s just that I made this pact with myself, on behalf of the wellbeing of mothers and babies: I decided several years ago to run a not-so-celebratory, sobering article every year on America’s birthday, as long as our country continues to show up so poorly in world rankings on maternal health.

(Settle in, grab a cuppa, this is not a breezy, 3-minute listicle. It’s important, historic, and deserves all the words it takes.)

Vaccination Nation?

Read the rest of this entry »