Fragmentation of
the Modern Mind

How the connection among
people is breaking down

Almost continual media consumption, living alone, ever less real face to face human contact, is, I fear, leaving us shattered and shaking, far from the grounded, loving selves we seek to be — and, as I see it, far from what God means us to be.
The bottom line, according to the US Census of 2006, the thing that American do more than any other, more than work, is to consume media (though I don't think they're counting sleep). It clearly is the dominant thing in our lives, and in our culture.
One in four adult Americans live alone.
I read that a Sunday New York Times gives you more new information than a typical person in the 18th century got in their entire life. So things really are speeding up.
From my industry, videogames, a survey was done some years ago by a game magazine, where they asked who was the most attractive woman in the world — and the winner was not a real woman. It was the Tomb Raider gal (played by Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider movie, but they were talking about the character in the game). The woman they liked best was a pixelized fake.
What about a video screen on your toothbrush (don't laugh).
It's been predicted by the Gartner (research) Group that "by 2010, 70% of the population in developed countries will spend 10 times longer per day interacting with people in the online world than in the physical one…" As we forget what a real woman and a real friend feels like, don't we step into a shadowy replica of life?
Electronic coldness doesn't get much worse than dumping a boyfriend or girlfriend via texting — and then of course immediately blocking them from your cell phone and de-friending them on Facebook.
For me, the very fact that there's a word like ‘parasocial' is totally creepy. (meaning "relationships" with celebrities)
Maybe it's just too hard to make personal, face to face relationships. Are we giving up, just laying back and popping in the iPod ear buds — while your spouse does the same beside you in bed, as my wife accused me of doing the other evening. Are we irreversibly headed down the slippery slope?
Facebook and the myriad other social sites are meant to be personal, and compared to plain email I'd say they're almost cozy — with pictures of friends and family, and little personal notes about whatever's going on.
Back to the big picture, the importance of always being connected (like the 24/7 news cycle), is shown in a young woman's comment in a New York Times article: "It's like, if you don't check your email, and you turn off your phone, it's almost like you don't exist."
If we interact with people "on screen" ten times as much as in person, eschew phone calls because texting is quicker (really because it's safer); retreat behind a fire wall of email — what does that mean for us? If we devote five months of every year to media, how much more can we take? Forget the tipping point, I think we're already just trying to keep our head above water. I think we're at the desperate place.
Those who say that definitely "our whole family usually eats dinner together" declined 1/3 the last 20 years of the 20th century (p. 100, Bowling Alone)
"With increased use of automobiles, the life of the sidewalk and the front yard has largely disappeared… There are few places as desolate and lonely as a suburban street on a hot afternoon." (p. 211, Bowling Alone)
I can't forget when I was much younger, and people were given an offer: a million dollars, if they would give up TV forever. Most people turned it down.
Things really aren't going so well. Twenge echoes Putnam's work, in noting that before 1915 only 1-2% of Americans had a major depression, while today it's 15-20%. In a "1990's study, 21% of teens aged 15-17" already had had a major depression. It's long been known that isolation and loneliness are major causes of depression, and deepen it. And the definition of depression here is fairly "strict" — the person must be taking medication, or be in "long term therapy." (p. 105-6, The Me Generation)
When middle schoolers were given five options of what to be in their life, the #1 thing they chose (43% of them) was to be the personal assistant to a celebrity. Only 10% wanted to be the chief of a major company, 14% a US Senator, 24% president of a great University. (p. XVI, Fame Junkies)
In 1963 the top 20 most admired people in the world included figures like Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, etc. — but not one entertainment/sports/or media star. In 2005 there were six on the list, from Mel Gibson to Rush Limbaugh (oh my). (page XVI, Fame Junkies)
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that the typical kid will have seen "40,000 murders and 200,000 other violent acts on TV" by the time they're 18. (p. XXII, Fame Junkies) The media and celebrity have become our reality — and it's pretty dark and twisted.
If we have strong and loving connections with other people, neural pathways in the brain grow and are strengthened; if not, the neural pathways can decline (p. 41 etc., Social Intelligence). If the neural pathways atrophy, the ability to relate to others is greatly diminished. It appears we can literally forget how to love. Still, this impulse to care for others seems to be one of the most basic of all human feelings.
How connected can we be? While I'm twitty at times, my wife and I, married 30 years, will sometimes start thinking of the same thing (a new topic), and both start talking about it at the same time. How can that happen? "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy," as the Bard would say.
When the brain wears down, when the neural pathways for empathy are lessened, we eventually lose most of our capability to connect. If this were to happen to our entire culture, we'd be done.
In the extreme case of psychopaths, they actually have little recognition of "fear or sadness on people's faces or in their voices." (p. 128, Social Intelligence). They just don't get it, and brain imagery shows the blanks in their neural pathways.
If you're not convinced yet, here are more medical impacts for being lovingly connected, or not. For men being treated for heart disease, those with the least emotional support had "40% more blockage." (p. 224, Social Intelligence) "… data from a number of large epidemiological studies suggest that toxic relationships are as major a risk factor for disease and death as are smoking, high blood pressure, or cholesterol, obesity, and physical inactivity." (p 224) Stop smoking, or get connected — seems like an easy choice.
What bound America together most in the second half of the 20th century was the terrible challenges we faced: the dust bowl, the depression, and the world agony of World War II. People who faced and fought down the world evil of Nazism had a group trust it is hard for us to imagine today. Recently, as I was organizing a weekend retreat for my church, I realized I had not trusted a group of people like this since I was in Boy Scouts 40 years ago. Corporate life, for me, was pretty soulless.
We can't just say no. If you want to cut a child's media time, you have to lead them in a new direction. Offer them other things to do, drive them to the park, support them seeing their friends. Maybe read together, get wild and meditate together, just have five minutes of quiet time together. Maybe you can help them find an inner life and stillness that will hold them in good stead throughout their lives.
In 1976, a study from the University of Michigan looked back two decades and found that: "Over these two decades informal socializing with friends and relatives declined by about 10%, organizational memberships fell by 16%, and church attendance… declined by 20%." These declines included "unions; church groups; fraternal and veterans organizations; civic groups such as PTA's; youth groups; charities…" etc. (p. 58-59, Bowling Alone) This has continued into the 21st century.
In his seminal work, Bowling Alone, the work which has meant the most to me for this project — sociologist Robert Putnam studied the collapse of social connection which occurred from the 1970's to the start of the new century, but he also looked back at the end of the 19th century, when America moved from the closeness of rural life to crowded, violent cities where they knew no one.
Despite all that was lost in the new city life, the social fabric was rewoven. We joined clubs, set up societies, came together and touched each other. Many of the major institutions of the 20th century grew incredibly in response to this challenge — like the League of Women Voters, Lions Club, Boy Scouts, etc. We may have been jammed together in cities, but we found a way. And jammed together on the internet as we are now, we too will find a way.

FRAGMENTATION OF THE MODERN MIND REPORT

Click to Download Printable PDF
  Introduction
  Bowling Alone, a restrospective on the 20th century
  Since we’re not so connected, what are we doing?
  Social Intelligence… what about our brain?
  Bowen Research study highlights, where are we now?
  Final thoughts.

Hugh Bowen,
Bowen Research
winter, 2010

Introduction

For some years I’ve had a disquieting feeling, then a conviction, about what it means for us to be swamped in media.  A feeling that the mass of emails, net flicks, TV, cell phone texting, and Facebooking (all of which I do enjoy) – is keeping us from each other, isolating us in a world of electronic loneliness, driving us into a wired tangle with desperate and potentially devastating results.  We seem to be losing ground, lessening our connection with each other – and that is what makes us human.  I do see a turnaround, but let’s start at the beginning.

I recognize TV and movies are fun.  I have friends with 12,000 songs on their iPods, and I know they really enjoy listening to them – I see them enjoying it.  I have studied consumer high tech all my adult life, done hundreds of focus groups and online studies on videogames, web sites and mobile phones.  Really I’m in it up to my neck – which hopefully qualifies me for this adventure.  (Though maybe it also begs the question, how can I now say these things are bad?)

Actually I’m not saying they’re all bad, just that four hours of TV a day for the average American (per the US Census), is too much.   Without email I couldn’t run my business, without the internet I couldn’t field the online surveys that comprise so much of my work.  But I fear we’re living with ever weakening social bonds.  Connecting directly with each other has been central to our survival as a species, not to mention our well being and happiness.  And I don’t mean connecting through a screen. 

Almost continual media consumption, living alone, ever less real face to face human contact, is, I fear, leaving us shattered and shaking, far from the grounded, loving selves we seek to be – and, as I see it, far from what God means us to be.  Somehow we are becoming more anxious, talking faster and feeling less, more neurotic, warping the way we communicate and relate.  All of which starves our souls and literally starves our physical health.  Why in America, supposedly the richest country in the world, are our children facing an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and likely to live shorter lives than their parents?

In case you think I’m overstating all this, consider the omniscient words of the poet T.S. Eliot from 1963, about television:  that it “permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.” 

The bottom line, according to the US Census of 2006, the thing that American do more than any other, more than work, is to consume media (though I don’t think they’re counting sleep).  It clearly is the dominant thing in our lives, and in our culture.  It’s almost more real than what we do the rest of the time.  The census predicts that people will devote half their lives to TV, the Internet, radio (or music), and reading (though I don’t mind the reading so much; I like to read, maybe that’s why I excuse it).

Further, as the brain scientists say, the neurons which “fire together wire together.”  The actual neural pathways in the brain have to be used or they fall away.  The pathways between different parts of our brain, that fire when we are socially connected in a loving and healthy way – those can wither, can fail to grow in the first place among kids and youth who are not socially connected.   Sadly, we can lose the ability to humanly connect. 

One in four adult Americans live alone.  I find that hard to believe, perhaps because I live in a small bedroom community on the California coast with many families.  I suppose the aloneness is more prevalent in the cities.  But the source of the data, again, is the US Census – you really can’t argue with it.

Not to belabor you with facts, but in 2000 Americans spent 3,333 hours taking in media, most of that watching TV (1,407 hours) as reported by Janet Kornblum in USA Today.  That’s 146 days, almost five total months.

In case you’re consoled by thinking the Internet is better (it’s interactive, has more real information than TV soap operas) –well, we’re using the Internet and at the same time watching more TV than ever.  A Nielsen report from July, 2008 says TV viewership continues to rise (now 127 hours/month), while we’re also giving 9% more hours to the Internet vs. the year before.

I basically think there’s no limit to the amount of media we can consume.  Sci-fi movies used to present totally bizarre scenarios where humans don’t have human life, they just “plug in” to experience life.  Not really so far fetched, is it?   

When rental movie videos first came out, the film industry was in a tizzy.  People wouldn’t go to the movies!  The result:  we rented movies and went to the movies – total consumption just rose. 

The other day a marketer for video on mobile phones was telling me about pass over, and he didn’t mean the religious holiday.  When a mom has a small child in, say, a grocery cart – and the mom is trying to get through the vegetable isle – she’ll “pass over” the cell phone so the child will watch a video and be distracted.

I don’t mean to criticize.  If I was a single mom, just off from my shift, I’d sure use the TV to occupy the kids so I could have time to make dinner.  I’m just trying to describe our predicament (or tragedy if it continues to its' logical conclusion), and I’d like to describe possible ways out.  Which I do see.

I was thinking about this and talking with my friend Richard, sitting on the steps of my church, enjoying the sun, when it occurred to me that all this may be contributing to the epidemic of ADD our

kids are facing.  Think about watching the latest quick cut video, or the latest car crash and special effects smorgasbords from almost any movie – wouldn’t that leave you kind of jangled? 

I used to love watching Steven Seagal movies.  Unrestrained, powerful, fully morally justified violence (well, pretty justified… he was always wailing on the bad guys).  Sometime in my late 40’s I started to realize those movies left me uneasy, kind of anxious – I had the feeling they weren’t good for me.  So now, as I approach 60, I almost never watch them.

Another of the major impulses for this work was my recognition that I, and many people, are speaking so much faster – and hugely interrupting each other.  I was turning into a Fox News talking head, and kind of a rude one.  These shows – where people talk over each other, or all yell at each other at the same time – that can’t be good.  But it just reflects, I fear, what the rest of us are doing. 

I suspect we talk faster because we want to be heard – we have the feeling (probably right) that the other person isn’t really listening.  After all, are we really listening to them?  The other day when a friend needed to get off the phone, I rudely blurted out, “Later!” and slammed down the receiver (before him – ha!).   I wanted it to be clear, or at least give the indication, that I was the one cutting things off.  A couple days later, a business friend did exactly the same thing to me.  We want to feel noticed, and cared for – short of that, we want to feel in control.  It’s almost like a contest for who can be the most abrasive.

More seriously, teachers tell me that in the last dozen years the attention span of grade school students has fallen in half.  Let’s hear that again.  Fallen in half.  It used to be a teacher could run with a subject for 24 minutes, and keep the kids’ attention.  Now if you don’t introduce a new topic every 12 minutes, you lose ‘em.  While multitasking is impressive, doesn’t it make it a lot more difficult to concentrate and complete a task?  In another ten years, does that mean kids will only be able to concentrate on a topic for six minutes?  What about when it’s three minutes, and all of life is changing and rushing so much faster.  Then we are hurtling toward…?

I read that a Sunday New York Times gives you more new information than a typical person in the 18th century got in their entire life.  So things really are speeding up.  I think we can all feel that.  We’ve gone from a stroll through the village square to the fire hose gush of information on the Internet.  Even the old inner city neighborhood, with it’s life on the front stoop, was better than cozying up to a computer screen.  This is scary. 

How much faster can we go, till we break into atoms.  Is that what God has in mind, that we all return to molecules and He starts all over?  Will we multi-task and blab at breakneck speed till we morph onto a higher plane – somehow I don’t think so.  The doctor prescribes more time sitting under a tree, preferably with a friend.

I don’t mean just to down modern media.  I am not a Luddite, trying the smash the 19th century factory looms in England so I can (hopefully) go back to weaving in my cottage by the sea.  It’s not going to happen, modern communication is here to stay.  We have to find a way to work with it, humanize it, still be in loving touch with each other.

Taking your cell phone on vacation (or your “Crackberry,” as the Blackberry is affectionately known) – is a mistake – if you’re answering business calls every hour.  Vacations in Hawaii are meant for time with friends and family, time to recharge you, not your cell phone.  (I’m speaking from experience here.  As a consultant I find it hard – maybe impossible – to say no to a good client – even when I’m on vacation.) I just heard from a friend, what I find almost beyond belief, that some people use the Crackberry as an alarm clock, and leave it by their bedside.  If they hear the beep of an incoming message while asleep, they get up to check it.  That’s just nuts.

Making ourselves available 24/7 can only lead to burnout, in my view.  And on the way, incredible inefficiency.  I recall that Lee Iacocca, when he was turning around Ford, would take off every weekend.  On Sunday evenings he would go in his home office to plan his goals for the work week.  Stepping back is part of working smarter.  And consider if getting that next promotion is worth giving up so much time with your family.

A Sprint study from 2006 showed that 93% of respondents took their cell phone on vacation with them.  Seems kind of quaint to ask the question, now.  We all just do it, as a matter of course.  I’ll hardly go for a walk in the country without my cell phone (if I’m attacked by a bear, I need to phone for help, of course).  What’s next, a surgical phone implant (the mobile ear pieces kind of look like that, a Star Trek or Vulcan extension for our brain)? 

I remember a friend at Microsoft telling me he was out for a few days, and when he came back he had 400 emails.  I had a young friend in a dot.com start up (very nice young man), and he and his five friends were in one room, desks together in a small square, all looking at each other.  But they’d hardly ever talk, it was all via email.  After all, as he said, then there’s a paper trail.  Sounds kind of Orwellian.  Some business cultures definitely are more imbued with techno-communication than others, and I suppose it’s more prevalent on the tech coasts – but it’s spreading. 

From my industry, videogames, a survey was done some years ago by a game magazine, where they asked who was the most attractive woman in the world – and the winner was not a real woman.  It was the Tomb Raider gal (played by Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider movie, but they were talking about the character in the game).  The woman they liked best was a pixelized fake.

What about a video screen on your toothbrush (don’t laugh).  I already have a video screen on the pump at the gas station, and yes, I watch it – can’t help myself.  Why live at all, just lay back and let the high def wash over you?

Ace-Comm, based on a study of 1000 US and 1000 UK/German teens in 2005/2006, found they spent more time on their cell phones than on homework.  Well, teens have always liked to talk, but I’d like to see them do it more in person.

Recently a marketing exec said cell phones will be the dominant personal electronic device, because they’re 24/7.  And that’s the case.  Kids are losing sleep because they’re texting at 3 am, presumably under the covers, lit by the dim glow of their cell screen.)  It’s said about ¼ of teens “talk to people they know their parents would disapprove of.”  Scary.  The television show where they catch countless Internet predators, and catch them so easily, isn’t making me feel any better.  A study of school children in Australia showed that “42% of boys and 40% of girls were tired enough that their concentration was impaired at school because of late night texting.”

It’s been predicted by the Gartner (research) Group that “by 2010, 70% of the population in developed countries will spend 10 times longer per day interacting with people in the online world than in the physical one…”  As we forget what a real woman and a real friend feels like, don’t we step into a shadowy replica of  life?

It’s no surprise media is so seductive.  Anthropologists say that we’re physiologically wired that if we see and hear something, it’s real.  So, sadly for us, we think media is real.

And it’s not just that we’re not spending enough quality time with people we’re close to.  We’re not spending enough time with ourselves.  Without listening to our own hearts, we lose our inner compass.

We all know people in business, maybe a lot of people, who really don’t want to talk to anyone anymore – everything needs to be filtered through email (gosh, you might have an emotional exchange – what would we do??)  I know this is more prevalent on the coasts in tech industries, but again I think it’s creeping across the landscape.  People say they only do email because it’s more efficient, and very often it is, but I suspect it’s more comfortable.  You’re always comfortable, in the electronic dead zone.

Electronic coldness doesn’t get much worse than dumping a boyfriend or girlfriend via texting – and then of course immediately blocking them from your cell phone and de-friending them on Facebook.

It much have been appalling for a 21-year old worker at a retail store in Wales to get a text message, “We will not require your services anymore… Thank you for your time with us.”

A youth pastor I know told me he’s seen kids with hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, who yet were dreadfully lonely.  In some part of us I have to believe we all crave close connections, but as the song says, we’re “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Well, how about some slightly better news…

THE VALUE OF ELECTRONIC CONNECTIONS

Is there a value in Facebook and all the rest?  Certainly, as I’ve used Facebook the last few months it’s kept me more in touch with people I already know, and that’s worthwhile.  (If it’s your main conduit to the world, and you try to build deep personal relationships starting from there, I suspect you’re on a dead end.)    But, the work friend who notes that he’s off to his daughter’s gymnastic competition, and will be out of the office, thereby tells me that he has a daughter, he really cares about her, and he’s a good Dad – at least that’s what I took out of it.  I knew him pretty well already, so I was building on that, not just taking a story from a stranger. 

The news feeds that instantly update your friends on Facebook at first got a real negative reaction, as Clive Thompson describes it in a 2008 New York Times article, as:  “a long list of up-to-the-minute gossip about their friends, around the clock, all in one place.”  In the first few days 284,000 people had joined a group (well, electronically joined), to complain about it.  But soon people came to like it – and like it a lot. 

Thompson went on to talk about people getting a solid value from the flow of all this minutia about their friends (more a benefit for people you already know, I would say) – you stay in touch with them, in a helpful way. 

As a friend described it to me, when you physically see someone only a few times a year, all the Facebook notes help you keep up.  You know where they went for vacation, that they watched deer in the backyard with their kids, and, yes, when they bought new socks (all real examples for me) – but it does add up.  As Thompson writes, you “sense the rhythms” of their lives in a new way.  “…over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting.” 

When I was a boy in the 1950’s, my Dad, who always had an active mind, told me that studies had shown – whether you live in a small town or a big city – that we have about 150 people we ”know” by sight, people who make up our own “group.”  Which is just the number in a monkey tribe.  Thompson talks about Robin Dunbar, who popularized this concept in 1998 – so much so, this 150 is now known as the “Dunbar number.”  Thompson’s thought is that we’re reducing our “real” group by devoting so much time and energy to our “electronic” tribe.  A balance we need to keep in mind.

“Psychologists,” Thompson says, “have long known that people engage in ‘parasocial’ relationships with fictional characters, like those on TV shows or in books, or with remote celebrities we read about in magazines.  Parasocial relationships can use up some of the emotional space in our Dunbar number…”  For me, the very fact that there’s a word like ‘parasocial’ is totally creepy.

Maybe we are pursuing electronic connections because the old ones have slipped so far beyond our grasp – the old forms of clubs, bowling teams, church suppers, and sitting on our front porch have long faded.  There’s no denying that, as Robert Putnam so stunningly and depressingly shows in his book Bowling Alone – which I will discuss at length, in a bit.  Maybe it’s just too hard to make personal, face to face relationships.  Are we giving up, just laying back and popping in the iPod ear buds – while your spouse does the same beside you in bed, as my wife accused me of doing the other evening.  Are we irreversibly headed down the slippery slope?  Will more depression, more people living alone, angry flaming emails and blogs be our only portion?

I don’t think so.  Despite the grimness of where we are, and what we’ve lost, I sense we’re on the path, working it out.  (Remember, as my mother said, I am an incredible optimist.)

I wonder if Facebook may be humanity slouching toward Bethlehem, trying to find a solution (OK, maybe it’s just stumbling at this point).   Facebook and the myriad other social sites are meant to be personal, and compared to plain email I’d say they’re almost cozy – with pictures of friends and family, and little personal notes about whatever’s going on.  It’s kinda like sitting over a cup of tea for a friendly chat – sort of. 

Before we were connected to a village, then a neighborhood.  Now we can be connected to the whole world.  Down as we are, maybe we can find our way through to something better.  Maybe far better.

Meantime, more discouraging news.

MENTAL ACUITY

Besides leaving our souls sluggish in the backwash, does this wave of media also swamp our minds, how we think and learn?  It seems so.  To me, as a person who could never even listen to music when I studied or worked, it seems obvious.  Though the younger generation(s) might strongly disagree, as multi-tasking is so part of them.  They’re doing homework on the PC, listening to music or the TV (maybe both), IM-ing – all at once, and happily so, it would appear.  But I would suggest all is not well in the state of Denmark.

A 2006 study from the National Academy of Sciences says “What’s new is that even if you can learn while distracted, it changes how you learn to make it less efficient and useful,” according to Russell A. Poldrack, a psychology professor at UCLA.

The doctor says that your brain essentially learns in two ways: declaratively, and secondly by habit.  And, you use different parts of your brain for each. If you memorize a phone number, that information is always there for you (kinda reminds me how I would memorize lists in school, by saying them aloud). 

Alternately, with “habit” learning, if you just “punch it in (a phone number) 1000 times, then even if you don’t remember it consciously, you can go to the phone and punch it in.”

The point is, if you’re distracted (i.e., multi-tasking), your brain is more likely to be using the “habit” way of learning, and using the part of the brain corresponding to that.  Still, as a caveat, Poldrack says that music alone, as it makes people happier (more relaxed?), can be a positive in learning.

The sample for the above study was small, 14 people, but with the average person  in America soaking in six hours of media a day, there’s a lot of salty distraction going on.

Another 2008 study, from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, shows that too many choices reduces our ability to focus.

People were given a varying number of choices, in the lab, classroom and in shopping malls – then their ability to focus was tested.  For those who’d faced lots of choices previously, they were much worse when given tasks like math problems.  Even when shopping, like shopping using a gift registry, the effect was the same.

It seems obvious – too many choices, too many distractions floating around, and you start to get a little dizzy – like spinning around on the grass when you were a kid.  Stop and think, how many choices do we have?  Well, there’s hundreds of cable shows, an almost infinite number of web sites, continual email and Facebook entries; pick any song you want – when you want it, on your iPod.  100,000 or so NetFlix movies just a day away.  “Genius” software that tracks the music or movies or books you like and suggests others you might like (and it’s starting to do it pretty well, though not as good as my best friend). 

And I enjoy all of this above – just not so much!!

I will add a caveat here – at least for teenagers I’m not so sure the multi-tasking is really getting in their way – most of them do seem to be learning pretty well.

Back to the big picture, the importance of always being connected (like the 24/7 news cycle), is shown in a young woman’s comment in a New York Times article:  “It’s like, if you don’t check your email, and you turn off your phone, it’s almost like you don’t exist.”

To really not exist, for your soul to be lost in the darkness, is of course even more serious than learning slower.

If we interact with people “on screen” ten times as much as in person, eschew phone calls because texting is quicker (really because it’s safer); retreat behind a fire wall of email – what does that mean for us?   If we devote five months of every year to media, how much more can we take?  Forget the tipping point, I think we’re already just trying to keep our head above water.  I think we’re at the desperate place. 

Now, for a review of the 20th century.

 

© 2010 Bowen Research