Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Computers an Extension of our Minds

Computers are becoming our minds, and we are living without our heads. The religious sister in her weekly column in the Catholic Times wants us to consider why we are  becoming more intellectually lethargic. She recalls her trips on the fast trains, less time consumed but was more tired at the end; and wonders if this is because we are not following the natural rhythm of life.

In our technological advanced society, we are going at a faster rate than our bodies have been programed to function: riding in cars, cleaning the house, washing the clothes, all helped along with machines. Marshall McLuhan said: "we shape our tools and afterward tools shape us." According to McLuhan, machines are the extensions of the human body. 

She admits that when she sits down at the keyboard of the computer the thoughts come to her much faster than the way she used the pencil in the past. No need to look for information, knowledge, understanding, or remember it, for it is all in the computer, the computer has become part of our central nervous system.

Scholars have shown that many of our children are intellectually lazy, and there are some who lament the situation. Many students are non-rational,  fragmented, and haphazard in their search. All they need do is go to the computer and search, no need to  memorize. They read quickly but the time they have to concentrate is little, and they  find it difficult to overcome tediousness in their studies.

She quotes a poet who wrote: "I found that when I shut the book I left my head inside." She feels this is  all too  true for many of us. No time, but I wanted to do  something, and started reading a book, and when I closed the book I forgot all that I had read. The same is true with a search, after reading all is forgotten. The computer becomes our brains and making us lazy and stupid.

With a plethora of information we lose our desire to use our brains. We are under the impression we know it all, and can find anything we want with ease;  this paralyses the body and mind. When we search for knowledge and make it our own we are alive with the meaning, and with the joy that comes with the process, and we are filled with satisfaction. 

She finishes her column by reminded us that instead of trying to impetuously try to keep up with what is going on in the world, might it not be better not to know all, be slow and enjoy the lack of what we think we should have. We need the leisure to enjoy this lack. The multiplicity of the  equipment of the  digital world will continue to increase, when we try to keep up, precious time will be lost. Amid all the changes, should we not be concerned with what  does not change?

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