Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

WIRED WEDNESDAYS: Digital Imitation of Life

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace

HOW FACEBOOK IS LIKE A BOX OF DONUTS

When is an apple not really an apple? And what does this silly question have to do with exploring our collective digital dependence?

An apple is not really an apple when the 3-dimensional, more or less round-ish, faintly applish-scented, red or green piece of fruit is replaced by something standing in for it—an abstract symbol of some kind. The most common form of abstraction or symbol occurs in written and spoken language: the word “apple” is a symbolic representation of the real thing.

Wired-Wednesdays-Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace

Even an image is an abstraction of the real thing, though more subtly so (which is part of the issue at hand!)

Without getting into all the left- and right-hemisphere brain stuff, we know that in order for the word “apple” to have a true depth of meaning for someone—a richness in their symbolic thinking—they need to have had real, 3-dimensional experience with actual apples: holding them, biting them, sniffing them, perhaps even picking them in an autumn orchard—a richness in their concrete experience with which their abstract thought connects.

An aside: This is why I don’t promote academics for young children, when their brain circuitry isn’t yet optimally wired up to process abstractions and symbols. When introduced too early, symbols such as words and numbers are “learned” in a rote, mechanical way. Such learning has little depth of meaning for a child, and leads to a more superficial interaction with words, ideas, and concepts.

As child psychologist David Elkind points out, “The language of things must precede the language of words, or else the words don’t mean anything.” Not the best way to begin a child’s lifelong learning, and certainly not conducive to the flexibly innovative, layered thinking capacities needed to forge peace, innovation, and prosperous sustainability!

The Danger of Imitators

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple decades, you’re aware of the health dangers of trans fats—you know, from “partially hydrogenated” oils found in almost all conventional processed foods. But maybe you’re not aware of exactly why they are so bad for you?

Leaving the molecular details aside, the process that creates trans fats makes them something your body thinks is food… something that mimics food closely enough that you take it into your digestive process… but something that your body actually does not recognize or know what to do with.

But because your body is always in there trying to come through for you, it tries to deal with it anyway. For an excellent description of exactly how your body responds to trans fats, and why it can lead to health problems, check out the middle section of Dr. Bill Sears’ explanation. (I love that he uses the same cars-in-parking-spaces analogy for cell membrane receptors as I wrote about—a year earlier—in the “Cellular Genius” section of Ch. 1 in Parenting for Peace. Great minds and all that…)

Digital Dependence and the Facebook Donut Box

Turns out there is a long list of things that endanger our health by closely resembling substances, processes or energies that are native to our bodies but which in fact are not, and therefore wreak havoc with our wellbeing and our health.

And it is around this exact point that I had a big “ah-hah”—a new, key vantage point from which to view digital dependence and consider ways toward healthy mastery of our devices.

Just as BPAs (the bad stuff in plastic), PCBs and even ingredients in common personal care products can disrupt health by mimicking our natural hormones, Michael Mendizza posits that “screens are dead but mimic living systems.”

“Compared to a living face the same face on a screen is sensory deprivation, containing a distorted fraction of the information and meaning of the living system it mimics. The more we interact with the dead counterfeit the less attuned, sensitive and empathic we are when relating with a real face.”

Over the past decade a mountain of evidence has been gathered to show that social media use can be associated with depression; the most recent study was just released, showing that in the U.S., “attachment to devices and the constant use of technology is associated with higher stress levels” for those who reported “constantly or often” checking their email, texts, and social media.

Could it be that we are hungry for connection, but trying to gorge on what Mendizza calls a “dead counterfeit” of connection? Could it be that social media (I’m not naming names, which may or may not contain, ironically, the word “book”) are the little chocolate donuts of our collective social landscape? Where memes, emojis and “post engagement” are trans fats that seem to satisfy, yet instead cause suffering?

Are we seeking the nourishment of human connection but embracing its virtual abstraction instead?

Viewer Discretion Advised

A student of and collaborator with the late Joseph Chilton Pearce, Mendizza (in his ever-impassioned, heady way) rightly focuses on the neuro-developmental implications of allowing young children a steady diet of technology, of encouraging a child’s brain to wire itself around so much counterfeit abstraction. And because I think his clear prescription points to a fruitful discussion (on future Wednesdays) of how we might  wisely shepherd the next generations away from digital dependence and toward device mastery, I am giving him today’s last word:

The less screen time before the great neural pruning around age eleven the better. Fill their life with safe, challenging natural living experience, open, develop and expand their capacity to imagine by immersing them in story and rich descriptive language, and model empathy for all living things; with this as the dominant influence during the early years let them have all the technology they want as teens and watch them soar.

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

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Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose… Breastfeeding

Friday, August 8th, 2014

No breastfeeding allowedAuthor Ray Bradbury pointed out, chillingly, “You don’t need to burn books to destroy a culture — just get people to stop reading them.” Similarly, you don’t need to actually ban nursing to decrease the incidence of breastfeeding — just make it more and more difficult to do.

The ways our culture makes breastfeeding ever more difficult range from the insidiously subtle (hospitals’ goody-bag full of formula) to the outrageously overt (Bill Maher’s infamous rant equating breastfeeding — “a private thing” — with “farting or masturbating or pissing”).

Bottled Up! from The Milky Way on Vimeo. (Includes the aforementioned Maher rant)

{Read onward at mothering.com}

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Image:
myllissaused under its Creative Commons license

 

Does Siri Thwart Social Intelligence?

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

During my infrequent strolls through Costco, a persistent thought comes to me (besides yum, those pizza samples are good) — If I were an evil genius wanting to erode the nutritional wellbeing of a civilization, this would be a good first step: Induce mass consumer hypnosis via the big-box store. (Will return to this point in a bit.)

During my infrequent strolls down streets with actual pedestrians, a persistent question comes to me: How will it effect this generation’s social intelligence, that the world of relating has so radically morphed from person-to-person to person-to-screen?

In the half-decade between my son’s junior and my daughter’s freshman years in high school, I witnessed his late-night telephone confabs (on a landline, gasp, when conference calls were a cool innovation) give way to her disembodied “connectivity” with Facebook friends. This glaring (de?)evolution announced itself through our walls: where there was once the sound of my son’s human voice — expressing the dynamic range of emotions endemic to the adolescent — now there was… silence. Save for an occasional giggle or groan from my daughter as she digested the latest posts. {Read more of this at mothering.com}

NOTE: Mothering posts don’t allow video embeds, so here’s the 90-second video of a little boy trying to interact with Siri:

Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose…Breastfeeding

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Protecting a Woman's Right to Choose...BreastfeedingAuthor Ray Bradbury pointed out, chillingly, “You don’t need to burn books to destroy a culture — just get people to stop reading them.” Similarly, you don’t need to actually ban nursing to decrease the incidence of breastfeeding — just make it more and more difficult to do.

The ways our culture makes breastfeeding ever more difficult range from the insidiously subtle (hospitals’ goody-bag full of formula) to the outrageously overt (Bill Maher’s infamous rant equating breastfeeding — “a private thing” — with “farting or masturbating or pissing”).

Bottled Up! from The Milky Way on Vimeo. (Includes the aforementioned Maher rant)

 

Image:
Mothering Touch used under its Creative Commons license