Thursday, January 11, 2018

Combating The Speed Of Information

Smart people follow me (I do not say that to brag but it is simply a fact reflecting more on the quality of my readers than any factors I possess).

Jeff (hereafter known as "Anonymous Jeff") sent me a great link to answer the question "What is the Internet doing to our brain?"  I commend it to your attention (Full disclosure:  it is 18 minutes long and has a least one loud, rather annoying advertisement): 

In short (for those like me that struggle watching You Tube videos) the Internet capitalizes on our inherent desire to gather information but continually floods our short term memory (which can hold 2-4 thoughts at a time) such that those thoughts cannot transfer to long term memory, which is where items go to be retained and where deep thinking and insights occur.  We have increased our visual acuity, but abandoned the ability to think deeply in the process.

(An interesting side note is that the speaker points out that the Internet companies - Facebook, Google, Amazon - capitalize on this need to constantly seek new information.  If it truly is doing harm to our ability to think, is it not fair to ask if they are really "Doing No Evil"?)

So I suppose the more important question is what can we do - really, what can I do - to combat this?

Well, we always go by the Rule of Five, right?

1) Decrease the Smart Phone Use:  I remember when I got my first piece of mobile technology - a pager, back in 1996.  I remember the fact that it was cool because you could get texts on it and news updates.  How far we have come.

Or maybe not.  Let us be honest:  a smart phone is almost compulsive for me now - and most of that use is not for communication (which is what the darn thing is supposed to be used for).  So cut it. Stop using it for non-communication purposes.  Decrease the reliance upon it for information, not increase my dependence on it.

2) Cut Back On News Sites:  I have already gone through this exercise at least twice in the last year, but I still find myself clinging to some level of being up to the minute engaged with the workings of the world - as if that was somehow going to change face of the world.  Time purge the list - much more completely this time.

3)  Focus:  If you are like me on the Internet, going to one thing almost inevitably leads to going to another.  And another.  Before long I am 15 pages deep learning about 17th Century Poland when what I was really looking up was the Yen to Dollar conversion rate.  Fight back by getting on for the information, getting the information, and getting off.

4) Read:  Yes, I know.  Reading is so 20th Century.  We do everything via videos and postings now. 

But when one reads, one is tied to the thing one is physically reading in one's hand.  I cannot just skip over to something else (well, maybe the conclusion) because I would have to put the book down and start something else.  The nature of the activity forces me to be only on that activity.

5)  Think:  This is the hardest of all.  To consciously decide rather than constantly gather new information, I am going to compile and ponder the information that I have.  Not that there is anything wrong with new information - just that I should be using the information I have more effectively.

There is a silent sixth, of course;  Use the Internet less and "old fashioned" means more.  Which, of course sounds like a Luddite response - although it strikes me that perhaps many Luddites lived perfectly happy lives with less visual acuity and more thought.


Anonymous said...

Hi TB,

You did a great job of explaining the problem. Good work and good plan. I was going to suggest the same, great minds... lol.

1) Decrease the Smart Phone Use: I don't own a Smart Phone - no problem there! I've been invited to join several what's app groups from guys at work and church members, they don't believe me when I tell I don't have a Smart Phone.

2) Cut Back On News Sites: Amen! Propaganda increases my blood pressure. I quit watching TV years ago.

3) Focus: Ouch. That is a problem, I have to wade through the muck to find a nugget of gold. Good information is hard to find. I have no good solution for this problem.

4) Read: Yes! I use a 90 day reading plan for the OT and a 30 day reading plan for the NT, in one year I read the OT four times and the NT 12 times. 10 chapters in the morning and ten chapters in the afternoon. I'm also reading the Sherlock Holmes stories.

5) Think: I agree this is the hardest of all. Retaining information and connecting the dots is the goal. I go for long walks and that does help me to think on a higher level.

We need to take better care of our brains, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercise, ect.

Young people and some adults act like zombies, I blame the Internet and Smart Phones. At work I have to remind myself to be meek with the 20 something crowd (and some adults) they can't follow simple instructions, they require constant supervision and encouragement.

At church the young men can't understand long Bible passages, it goes right over their heads. Oh! This will turn into a long rant, I'll stop here.

I always wondered how the anti-christ would be able to deceive so many people,now I know.

Good post TB take care!
Anonymous Jeff ;-)

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thanks Anonymous Jeff! Great minds do think alike indeed.

One suggestion that I have started implementing in my own life which seems to make a difference: being conscious of the fact that I can only retain two to four things in my mind at any one time, I am trying to make a point of not directly moving from one intake of information to another. Be it from self study to self study (personal) or task to task (work), I am trying to budget in a certain amount of time to allow the information I have just taken in to sit there. It seems to be having a little effect in my ability to get some of the information into longer term memory.

Great point about dealing with others at work as well. I have not really paid attention to how it affects others but I shall.

Glen Filthie said...

Some of your readers are dumb as a post, TB - not mentioning any names of course, HAR HAR HAR!!! :)

I use my phone to talk, text, and emails - maybe the weather once in awhile. I got a few apps on it I never use, and I don't do Twitter or Facebook.

I wish MSN would die. Painfully. I look at the homepage that comes up with all the 'NEWS!!!' - and it's like being trolled by a kid. A stupid kid! "Here's what you need to know about Donald Trump's Insanity!" "Hollywood Celeb hauled off to Pervert Island for sexual misconduct!" "Look at these adorable fashions the cool girls will be wearing at the beach this year!!!"

I can't do it!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Well Glen, the writer is a dumb as a post as well, so it all works out!

I cannot totally dislike smart phones beyond their communication use - frankly, there are some applications (weather, for example or a calculator or notes) or even study tools that are indeed handy. It is when they come to dominate the use of the phone that it becomes an issue.

I had a Twitter account once - two, in fact. Found it to be just another way to be tracked and trended. I have been trying to cut down on my web presence - the big goal, within 5 years anyway, is to drastically reduce my presence on line (to essentially this blog, an e-mail address, and a handful of websites I actually use) and within 10 years, to pretty much wither and die on the InterWeb.

I have reached the point I consult alternate websites, if at all, Yes, they are biased - but as I perceive the MSN to be biased as well, I do not know that that is quite the issue it used to be.

Glen Filthie said...

I do the alternate websites as well. I hate it... But nowadays, with the media as biased and corrupt as it is... What can you do?

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Glen, I guess I prefer to have my bias known and active rather than hidden behind a verbal veneer of neutrality...