Does My Smartphone Make Me Dumber?

A few weeks back I was listening to a concerned scientist speak about the perils of the ever earlier adoption of mobile devices for children. It seems like an unusually serious topic for a late night show.I expected the usual lecturing that you can get from the latest nutritional health freak that is just trying to scare people off into buying their new miracle product. Instead, I got a very genuine and reasoned academic argument.

I will spare you the details – suffice to say that if things continue this way the future generations will be gravely affected both socially and in their ability to read and reflect. Think functional ADD-like need for instant and constant stimulation and serious relational inability to connect face to face.

I have noticed the negative effect of the constant need to be ‘wired’ in my own life. The incessant temptation to check Facebook – out of curiosity (disguised as ‘care’ for ‘friends’) and Twitter (disguised as a desire to be ‘up-to-date’). Think first thing in the morning, think supermarket cash tills cue, think car park, think last thing at night, think waiting for someone in a cafe and horror, think the odd peek during a dull meeting).

A Banksy fan account tweeted (ironic, I know) this disturbing picture:

banksy mobile
It sums up pretty well what we can become – modern day slaves. perhaps too freakishly close to the controlling nature of the Matrix (just try to get yourself weaned off and see if I’m joking).The trade-off is that we find it harder to simply be quiet and….observe, listen, think, watch, read. We fill our minds with unnecessary images of kittens doing silly dances, endless football parodies, zillions of ‘this is what i’m eating right now’, nauseating selfies, myriads of inadvertently ‘my life is better than yours’ type photos and faux ‘drive by’ political/social campaigns. Of course there is the odd good stuff. And that’s why I’m not throwing the baby with the bath water.

In the next post I will attempt to write about the impact this issue has on my spirituality and suggest a healthier way forward.

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