Thursday, September 18, 2014

Popcorn Brain Syndrome

Creativity and imagination are two assets that help us live a full life. Our attachment to the internet world  is seen as  a diminishment in our ability to relate with the real world and to engage our brains. A religious sister who has made media ecology her interest writes in a  series of articles in the Korean Times about the problems we face in this new world.  

Many of our young people hate to read, think and write. Reading helps us to think, thinking helps us to discuss and to write. Frances  Bacon said: "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." 

She feel that if the students realized that reading makes one a more complete person, they would see reading differently. The way they see reading in school is a rite of passage to get into college. Once they get into college they can do away with it. 

The smart phone for the young people is a pathway to freedom and deliverance. She doesn't know what comes first. Whether they become attached to the smart phone and don't read or they don't read and become attached to the smartphone. What is clear is that when one's attention is taken up with the stimulation that comes from the games and the smartphone, reading will be difficult. Middle school children are the ones mostly affected: 30 percent of the students find their text books difficult. To read and understand is the problem.

The sister mentions professor David Levy who coined the word: 'popcorn brain' syndrome — a brain so accustomed to the constant stimulation of electronic multitasking making one unfit for life offline, where things pop at a much slower pace. We become indifferent to our reality, our attention span is reduced. 

When the smart phone becomes like another appendage we become lethargic to the outside world, lose sensitivity to our surroundings, find it difficult to express our emotions and read the emotions of others. When this happens, she says, it is difficult to expect human instincts and virtuous living to follow.

She recommends in the home to keep the interchange with the children open. She would like all to keep a diary of the use of the smart phone and in the evening  have a place in the living room to keep them. Before they go to sleep, as a form  of prayer she advises to review some sentences they  read during the day. Hopefully, she says this will become a habit, similar to the one they have with the smart phone.

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