The Genius of Wandering Minds

I just finished reading a study titled The Persistence of Thought which examined the relationship between a working memory (WM) and inattention, specifically the maintenance of task-unrelated thinking (TUT). The subjects of the study were given a standard test for working memory and performed a series of undemanding computer simulated tasks. People with higher WM scores reported more episodes of mind wandering in TUT. The study reported: “We found that individuals with higher WM capacity reported more TUT in undemanding tasks, which suggests that WM enables the maintenance of mind wandering.”

While correlation does not prove causation, I am left wondering whether increasing the working memory of individuals results in an increase of mind wandering. This would seem to be the case. Likewise, what role does task difficulty play? The article begins by saying that “tasks that tax WM have consistently been found to decrease mind wandering.” The study revealed that individual’s with greater working memory reported the task to be easier. Does increasing the task difficulty improve performance?

Past research has consistently revealed a strong link between working memory and intelligence.

I am curious how this relates to the phenomenon of ADHD, the protypical example of a wandering mind.

In the past cognitive testing attributed a deficient working memory with ADHD symptoms, leading them to believe that a poor working memory was the cause of distraction. Researchers have identified neurochemicals, specifically dopamine and norepinephrine, as a key feature of understanding ADHD symptoms, and that with the supplementation of dopamine enhancing drugs working memory improves and attention returns.

Perhaps the indication of reward dictates improved performance on attention-related tasks? Perhaps a greater challenge poses a greater reward, and thus better performance?

Is school too easy for individuals with ADHD? Too unstimulating and unchallenging? Is the environment of formal education unsuited for ADHD learning?

Research has found neural hyperactivity is associated with individuals diagnosed with ADHD, as well as a host of other mental disorders that have been historically attributed to creative genius. (See Neurology of ADHD Is there evidence for neural compensation in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?Is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder a valid diagnosis in the presence of high IQ?)

Along these lines, I found this study particularly interesting: “Task-related changes in cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the men without ADHD were more prominent in the frontal and temporal regions, but rCBF changes in men with ADHD were more widespread and primarily located in the occipital regions.” Researchers observed diffused cCBF in individuals with ADHD, rather than accute rCBF in those without.

The results showed that: “Men without ADHD demonstrated significant time-related rCBF increases in the anterior cingulate and medial frontal regions (Brodmann area 32/10) and decreases in the left middle frontal regions (Brodmann area 9). Men with ADHD showed significant time-related decreases in the left middle (Brodmann area 21) temporal lobe and increases in the right lenticulate, left parahippocampal gyrus (Brodmann area 35/36), and bilateral cerebellum.”

The anterior cingulate: It appears to play a role in a wide variety of autonomic functions, such as regulating blood pressure and heart rate, as well as rational cognitive functions, such as reward anticipation, decision-making, empathy and emotion.

The medial frontal regions (Brodmann area 32/10):  Dorsal region of anterior cingulate gyrus (Brodmann area 32) is associated with rational thought processes, most notably active during the Stroop task.  Rostral prefrontal cortex (approximating Brodmann area 10) has been shown repeatedly to have a role in the maintenance and realization of delayed intentions that are triggered by event cues (i.e., event-based prospective memory).

The left middle (Brodmann area 21) temporal lobe: a region believed to play a part in auditory processing and language

The right lenticulate (See Data)

The left parahippocampal gyrus (Brodmann area 35/36):  The perirhinal cortex (Brodmann area 35/36) receives highly-processed sensory information from all sensory regions, and is generally accepted to be an important region for memory. The perirhinal cortex is involved in both visual perception and memory; it facilitates the recognition and identification of environmental stimuli. Lesions to the perirhinal cortex in both monkeys and rats lead to the impairment of visual recognition memory, disrupting stimulus-stimulus associations and object-recognition abilities. The perirhinal cortex’s role in the formation and retrieval of stimulus-stimulus associations (and in virtue of its unique anatomical position in the medial temporal lobe) suggest that it is part of a larger semantic system that is crucial for endowing objects with meaning.

The bilateral cerebellum: the basic function of the cerebellum is not to initiate movements, or to decide which movements to execute, but rather to calibrate the detailed form of a movement.

What are the implications?

*

On another unrelated note, I found this study, titled Structural brain variation and general intelligence, very interesting as well. The “results underscore the distributed neural basis of intelligence and suggest a developmental course for volume–IQ relationships in adulthood.” As in, nurture over nature.

I’ve touched on these ideas many times before, specifically: Neural Hyperactivity: Genius and Deviant Psychology and Thoughts: Novelty, Education, Society, Theory

Neural Hyperactivity: Genius and Deviant Psychology

I don’t feel like synthesizing all this reading into a coherent post at the moment, but I’m tired of looking at it in my drafts folder. I’ll get around to refining these ideas and making my intuitions about this research more explicit, but I’ll publish it in the mean time in the event that anyone feels up to drawing some connections between all this research. Ultimately, I’m interested in the areas of the brain that produce genius. Specifically, I want to explore the overlapping’s of ADHD, depression, and other ‘mental disorders’ with creativity, problem solving, novelty seeking, and, to a greater or lesser extent, intelligence. 

Once again, I apologize if it’s utterly incoherent at the moment, but there is a rhyme to all the erraticism. 

Continue reading “Neural Hyperactivity: Genius and Deviant Psychology”

Thoughts: Novelty, Education, Society, Theory

I could write for days on end with all that’s been on my mind. But I guess I’ll just dump some random thoughts circulating about at the moment. I apologize if my line of thought appears a bit erratic and nonlinear.

Recent research regarding the genetic basis for novelty seeking behaviors in honey bees parallels that of humans. ADHD is characterized as a novelty seeking behavior, one that thrives off of new stimulation, hence the title Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. These genes are hardwired to the benefit of the group to seek new enterprises, to explore and discover new directions for growth.

Society is a historical phenomenon, a developmental product of inherited traditions to preserve functional behavioral aspects for survival. Pure theory disregards the empirical element to any social science. The biggest culprit in perpetuating opaque theories in the social sciences is Economics.

I will state that pure theory of any kind breeds a certain phenomenon of necessity by reducing evolving organic elements into statical-atomistic parts, consequently quelling any perspective that accommodates for change. Theory requires assigned values in order to quantify and logically justify its conclusions. Indoctrination is the method that achieves this end.

So long as economics is a practical exercise whose applications deal with and affect the organism of society, it should have no business perpetuating pure theory over historical-empirical observations, which is science. Psuedo-science is pure theory. Recall the utility of metaphysical speculations rooted in pure machinations melded from minds rooted in supernatural causation, totally detached from the socio-material world. Perspective, or rather the amalgam of perspective, is paramount to achieving accurate explanations. Think on the process of peer review.

Necessity breeds slavery, i.e. denies man. The phonomenon of Necessity is a testament, not to its excellence, but its power [sic Ellul]. Necessity is convergent. Possibility is divergent, as is potentiality. Equilibrium is convergent. Evolution is divergent. Preservation is convergent. Adaptation is divergent.

A college degree, and contemporary formal education, is tantamount to receiving confirmation through the Christian church. I reject the value of indoctrination in both.

Have we witnessed a surge towards the value of divergent thinking or convergent? Does our education system reflect valuations of standardization or differentiation? Has standardized testing, formality, rigid class structure increased or decreased? What is our fate?

You cannot stand within and move without: escape bias by escaping context. Transcend perspective by losing it.

That I know myself to be a common man makes me uncommon. Recall the maxim of Thales: “Know thyself.” Recall the wisest tenant of Socrates: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing, for when I don’t know what justice is, I’ll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy.”

Many know the words, few know the meaning. For that we can praise propaganda’s subversive process of inculcation perpetuated by the forceful effect of formal education: memorization, recitation, regurgitation, repeat. Where is Comprehension? Where is dialog? Propaganda ceases where dialog begins.

Economics is a social science. Society is a historical phenomenon. History is an empirical development. Why are we perpetuating pure theory over empirical practice? Let us cultivate the value of individual consciousness, each man’s theory of mind, and marry it with the prevailing practices to yield a praxis of reflection and action that prizes the individual’s contribution to the well being of the social context in which he is situated. To deny the value of a single perspective is to sabotage evolution’s law of accounting for every variable to render a more perfect adaptability.

Where you look determines what you see. Look farther, look wider, look deeper.

“Men must talk about themselves until they know themselves.” Journal reflections. Engage in dialogue. Objectify the subjective; discover its fruits and failings. Dialogue, so long as it is an honest portrayal of your current convictions, destroys propaganda, dispels ignorance, and produces a finer eye with which to feed the mind.

Recent science has reaffirmed the powers of LSD as a means of disrupting habits of thought. This bodes well for the prospect of freeing the mind of man, i.e. addiction, but poorly for a politik aiming to strengthen its control through conformity.

Mental diseases, as diagnosed by contemporary medical criteria, and most notably depression, bipolar, and anxiety, have been associated with great genius and leadership in every domain of society. Contrary to popular belief, recent science has discovered that depression is due to a hyper activity in the brain that leads to potential paralyzation of thought, hence the symptoms of rumination, chronic worry, listlessness and the like.

ADHD is also characterized by hyperactive brain activity. Individuals with ADHD are in upwards of 2.7 times more likely to simultaneously have depression (Other notable correlations include bipolar disorder, anxiety, and oppositional defiance disorder. See herehere, here, here, here, and here)

Individuals with mild depression, as opposed to those with major depression, are more skeptical and therefore rational than those without the diagnoses. (Listen to this presentation on Optimism Bias)

I posit that the same reason people retain a optimism bias, despite being confronted with contradictory facts, is the same reason people exist in a state of denial. (See here)

“[Michael Shermer’s] latest book, ‘The Believing Brain’, is a fascinating synthesis of 30 years of research on the subject. Shermer’s conclusion, about our belief-forming machinery, is disturbing. Most beliefs are not formed by carefully evaluating the evidence in favor or against a particular claim. Instead, they are snap decisions made for psychological, emotional and social reasons in the context of an environment created by family, friends, colleagues, culture and society at large. Only after the belief is formed, do people try to rationalize it and subconsciously seek out confirmatory evidence which, upon finding, reinforces the belief in a positive feedback loop.”

I can appreciate the evolutionary utility of bias as a means of maintaining inherited beliefs and preserving the status quo, but one needs to dwell on the implications of how this bias can be exploited, specifically by propaganda.

That leads me to another issue that I’ve been giving plenty of thought: the social construction of reality. What got me started thinking on this topic was my development economics course (which I despise due to the highfalutin exaggerations regarding its ability to actually explain economic development). The only piece of information I found valuable at all was the only piece of information it absolvedly claimed to be the single dictator for a society’s developmental economic success: institutions. This struck me as acutely profound, and odd since it was a mere footnote amongst an oceanic backdrop of theoretical constructions and descriptive statistics.

Since then I began to explore the weight of this idea that institutions are the sole determinate of economic development and success. I began asking myself ‘What are these institutions?’, ‘Why are they so important for economic development?’, ‘What makes one institution better than another?’, ‘How are these institutions created and sustained?’, and many others.

Because of this prick to my curiosity, and because of a massive paper I’m developing for a Macroeconomic policy class, I picked up my old History of Economic Thought book and reread about fifty percent of it, trying to uncover a scintilla of insight into what the history of economic thought may have said about this idea of institutions, and I was more than rewarded for these efforts. In addition to accruing a renewed interest in classical economists such as Smith, Malthus and Ricardo, my eyes were once again opened to the oft-misinterpreted and misaligned message of Marx, and futhermore I discovered just the veins of thought that satisfied by curiosities most exactly: Historical Economics and Institutional Economics. Wow.

Due to my interest in evolutionary economics and political economy I previously read books by Galbraith, Schumpeter, Marshall, Boulding and others but I was totally ignorant to the extent at which these involved socio-economics, specifically institutional economics. Moreover, meta-connections between economics, politics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, and evolution were made abundantly clear.

My philosophically minded interest in gaining traction in these seemingly disparately domains to gain a broader, fuller, and more comprehensive understanding of the world in which I am situated lead me to my original fascination with power, which I gratuitously thank Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Thucydides for instilling within me. Specifically, power as the mechanism for all change: be it in the reality of the natural world or in the phenomenon of the conscious mind. The impetus of power occupies the seat governing change in every domain, from physics and math, to politics and business, and all the cultural manifestations in between, from science to religion. The force and intensity of power can be traced to both intentional and accidental confluences.

At the time I had this revelation in the power of institutions, I just so happened to be reading Veblen Thorstein’s The Theory of the Leisure Class. I picked up his book due to my growing fascination with domestic and current account imbalances (debt) and the wealth disparities they create. Thorstein Veblen just so happened to be not only an economist and sociologists, but one of the original proponents of institutional economics.

Other factors that influenced this fascination was my study of Greek civilization. Being a professed model for American Democracy, I felt compelled to investigate the various factors involved in the production of Greek culture. Greek religion appeared as a marvelous area of study due to my corrected ignorance of its role in shaping the nomos or conventions governing social affairs, rather than solely providing a metaphysical comfort like modern Christianity seeks to accomplish.

In addition, I coincidentally read Peter Berger’s The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion for a humanities class in Crisis and Creativity. This sealed the connection between the role of institutions in shaping mass culture and individual psychology.

From here I began studying sociology more intensely.

I’m nearly finished reading Berger and Luckmann’s seminal work, The Social Construction of Reality, on the formation of social knowledge, which they declare dictates our conception of reality more generally. It’s a fascinating read that I recommend everyone pick up. I don’t have time to elaborate on my revelations, insights and comments at the moment. Another time.

Berger’s reading elevated by insight into the mechanisms that create the social consciousness and the social knowledge that accompanies it. As a result of that reading I also began looking into the various apparatuses within society that perpetuate social knowledge. I purchased the book Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes by Ellul and this has further reinforced by understanding of the mechanisms driving social behavior.

An interesting, but not surprising, study reveals that “Large numbers of authors of DSM psychiatry ‘bible’ have ties to the drugs industry.” (See here) This reaffirms my conviction that psychiatry is a purely cultural phenomenon. And culture, as I have mentioned, is a product proportional to the authority and power bestowed by institutions within society. While the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is a large institution with vested authority, it is dwarfed in power by the profit motives of the Pharmaceutical industry.

And what dictates the extent of profit motives for big pharma? My thoughts turn immediately to the legal and political realm governed by lawmakers in congress as well as the upholders of that law in the judicial branch and the enforcers in the executive branch.

What motivates these political individuals? The preservation of their power or, at the very least and being most charitable, the preservation of the power of their ideas about the way things ought to be, specifically their values, which are at base purely subjective constructs that reflect a means of preserving their ego.

I could go on but I have other work to due.

Last thoughts. I’m looking forward to reading Thucydides’ The History of the Peloponnesian War as well as Althusser’s Philosophy, Lenin, and other essays. I need to finish reading Das Capital by Marx, something I began reading with great enthusiasm a month or two ago but got distracted with all these new insights.

Other author’s also on my reading list are Max Weber, Kahneman and Tversky, Mitchell Waldrop, Alfred Schutz, Karl Mannheim, Alfred Weber, Max Scheler, Colin Camerer, and Tacitus.

I’ll dump more thoughts later.

Multitasking State of Mind: Technology and its affects

A journal response/rant to an essay by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson titled Multitaskinbg State of Mind

I agree with Simpson. These are not new thoughts. I feel more disconnected with the world now more than ever. I feel like a puppet master that articulates gestures to the world through mediums apart from me. I can tweak these gestures and reveal carefully chosen facades to the world.

I am exhausted, no doubt about it. I come to class in a stupor. My mind is in distant lands. It’s not whole, that’s for sure. When I say whole, I’m referring to a mind that’s all together at one place at a time. Instead my thoughts drift in all sorts of directions, leaving me spacey and unenthused. Why unenthused? My ability to conjure passion for a subject and the idiosyncrasies it posses are virtually nonexistent. Let me tell you, it is a daily struggle to pry myself from the grips of the web. I can watch my mental state degenerate as I log in time on the computer. At the beginning of the day I find myself refreshed. I usually stay away from the net as long as possible… but once I’m there… it begins. My mind, its quiet thoughts that usually dwell on solving important priorities in my life, are off tending to random information consumed through news feeds. The news itself is usually enlightening… for a moment. Once I bring in new enlightening information it flees and usually never returns. I never have an opportunity to synthesize it, make sense of it. I’m constantly barraging myself with multisensory distractions.

The shame in all this is that I was raised in a family that shunned electronic devices. No cable TV, 30 minutes a day on the internet. When I was living at home I had to make fun. It was great. Today, and when I say today I’m referring to my life at college, I am a pathetic party pooper. I didn’t start off this way. Oh no. Upon prepping for college I was a voracious reader, pumping out four books a month the year prior to landmark. I would write in my journal for hours at a time. I was motivated and focused. I taught myself coping mechanisms that I could bring to landmark. That was before the laptop came into my life. Once this happened, and I was very conscious of it the moment it entered, I lost all self control. It was a slow loss of control at first. It came with justifying my internet and web surfing usage bit by bit. Hey, everyone’s doing it. All the cool links that fill up you inbox from your friends. I felt like I was missing out.

I remember restraining myself from using the net. Turning off the wireless function, limiting myself to ONLY school related programs and sites. Bit by bit however I found myself delving into the horrific world of instant gratification. Stimulus and reward had crept into my life. It is a horrifying realization of course. At this point I’m graduating… and I am absolutely, 100% full of CONTEMPT for technology. It has ruined my ‘chi’. It has destroyed my spiritual peace of mind. I am no longer in the present, aware, and disciplined. I have been infected by a virus that seeks only new information… whatever interests me and rewards these impulses. My mind seeks these out and grows wary in most other stimulus inquiries. I say it’s a virus because it has grown worse and worse, almost ravaging me, and now I can say I am a participant that drags other fresh untainted minds into the realm of stimulus/ information consumption.

I HAVE tried ridding myself of this virus. I have planned and allotted time for quality reading and thinking. I do journal. I do seek peace on walks and reflections on nature. But, alas, I find myself in front of the computer at the end of the day, checking emails, and there they are- more distractions, links and stimulus. I hate it. Nay, I loath it.

As some one with ADHD… I NEED control. I CRAVE it. I have accepted that I cannot necessarily control the way I learn, so I adapt and learn to control other factors. I create novel ways with learning. I choose my environments wisely. These actions offer me a control to work around myself. But nowadays, in my current state, I feel helpless. Out of control. My mind wanders to the technology and it it’s robbed and abused. The satisfaction is so temporary that it genuinely leaves me with no lasting feelings. I must feed off it.

The concentration element is another story. My concentration has been so corrupted that even my desire and goal to achieve meaningful tasks has grown into a heaping obstacle. This actually coincides with the communication aspect. Because my concentration has been so abused, my ability to initiate meaningful conversations has dwindled. How? People, unlike the web pages and images that plaster the internet landscape, have depth. This depth needs to be explored… and people do NOT readily present this information. Nope. You are required as a human people, to become genuinely interested and do some work at finding it. Digging it out. Communicating requires a certain level of interest where digging into that depth is achieved. In this way a connection can occur. Problem is, people don’t have links covering their body. They don’t advertise the interesting stuff. It’s buried deep within them. To get it out, you must seek, dig, and poke around. You must concentrate, use some working memory, make connections and discover them.

ALAS, people in this era have lost the patience for such an art. Book reading is the same way. Books are long, with complex plots. They require an interest and concentration that allows you to dig up and make associations. Articles on the web, short summaries, twitters, wall posts and status updates hardly required this level of though. It goes in and just as fast as it goes it, it leaves.

So, would I agree with Simpson? Hell yes. She is on the money.

Do I think this multitasking trend is a good thing? Nope.  But I could argue the other way as well. In terms of health, absolutely not. In terms of adapting to the cultural trends, of course it’s a good thing. How would you survive in today’s fast paced, information crunching culture?!

But our minds, bodies and spirits have not evolved with these trends. We need quiet contemplation. It rocks my world this non-stop stimulation. It’s not even physically taxing. Simply mundane. It adds no REAL value to my life. Networking online with other virtually faceless profiles is an unfulfilling practice. We are only furthering a narcissistic urge to advertise our uniqueness to the populace. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ALL THE FUN I HAVE! MY COOL QUOTES! MY AWESOME PICTURES! LOOK WHAT IT CONNOTES! DENOTES!

The truth is… it is not bringing us closer to our goals… UNLESS that goal is to flatter ourselves. Swear to God. What the hell are these networking sites for anyway? To get ourselves out to the world!?? ‘Look at me!’ we say with our profiles, ‘I am special and unique and bring value!’ The HUGE problem is, I find that most people, including myself, put MORE time into the networking aspect, than to the value they are trying to project.

How a person spends every second of their day defines who they are. If we got real with ourselves, we’d realize we spend diddly-squat time reading and doing the things we advertise as our passions when we COMPARE the time we spend on technology. Compare the time people spend leisurely listening on their IPODS to music to actually making music. Or the people who browse art ALL day long on the internet, but how many hours a day do they spend painting? COUNTLESS other examples…

I can’t imagine all the damage we’re doing to ourselves.

In the end its all about perspective. I’m not really convinced this technology revolution will aid in the overall health of those involved. I believe in simplicity. Mathematics, physics, and all other great sciences, depend on simplicity. I believe, in our life, we need it. A life with focus is a life with direction. What focus can people say they have? Perhaps this whole trend of multitasking is a focus itself…

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(I wrote this personal journal entry in January as a natural response to my own ruminations about the effects of the internet:

I’ve been wrestling lately. With thoughts. I’m wondering if the Internet is a bad or good thing. Most of my free time is spent reading blogs, e-mailing, watching videos, reading the news, checking updates or just plain surfing. I find that traditional reading has become more of a chore than it used to be.

It’s sad to think that’d I’d prefer to e-mail or message someone instead of call them on the phone. Catching up is done online. Catching up and conversing over a cup of coffee is almost unnecessary. I almost need something to do, like an activity or event to make our time a worthwhile experience. It seems like a waste of time when it’s all been said. After all the updates are read and all the blogs are perused, what else is there?

This is not a new thought or debate by any means. I feel that as much as this technology has made it easier and brought us together, I feel that we’re grown more alienated and impersonal than ever before. Even now I express these thoughts electronically, publicly.

I have a hard time remembering when certain people really knew me. When our relationship was something special and unique. That only a handful of people had the opportunity of knowing my day to day thoughts. I’ve become so transparent I feel lost. Where is the fidelity of a deep friendship?

Maybe this is a temporary feeling. I don’t know. I suppose I’m speaking to a very niche crowd. I know there are many nonconformists who live free of the networking hassle.

 

**********

Multitasking State of Mind: Technology and its Effects

A journal response/rant to an essay by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson titled Multitasking State of Mind

I agree with Simpson. These are not new thoughts. I feel more disconnected with the world now more than ever. I feel like a puppet master that articulates gestures to the world through mediums apart from me. I can tweak these gestures and reveal carefully chosen facades to the world.

I am exhausted, no doubt about it. I come to class in a stupor. My mind is in distant lands. It’s not whole, that’s for sure. When I say whole, I’m referring to a mind that’s all together at one place at a time. Instead my thoughts drift in all sorts of directions, leaving me spacey and unenthused. Why unenthused? My ability to conjure passion for a subject and the idiosyncrasies it possesses are virtually nonexistent. Let me tell you, it is a daily struggle to pry myself from the grips of the web. I can watch my mental state degenerate as I log in time on the computer. At the beginning of the day I find myself refreshed. I usually stay away from the net as long as possible… but once I’m there… it begins. My mind, its quiet thoughts that usually dwell on solving important priorities in my life, are off tending to random information consumed through news feeds. The news itself is usually enlightening… for a moment. Once I bring in new enlightening information it flees and usually never returns. I never have an opportunity to synthesize it, make sense of it. I’m constantly barraging myself with multisensory distractions.

The shame in all this is that I was raised in a family that shunned electronic devices. No cable TV, 30 minutes a day on the internet. When I was living at home I had to make fun. It was great. Today, and when I say today I’m referring to my life at college, I am a pathetic party pooper. I didn’t start off this way. Oh no. Upon prepping for college I was a voracious reader, pumping out four books a month the year prior to landmark. I would write in my journal for hours at a time. I was motivated and focused. I taught myself coping mechanisms that I could bring to landmark. That was before the laptop came into my life. Once this happened, and I was very conscious of it the moment it entered, I lost all self control. It was a slow loss of control at first. It came with justifying my internet and web surfing usage bit by bit. Hey, everyone’s doing it. All the cool links that fill up you inbox from your friends. I felt like I was missing out.

I remember restraining myself from using the net. Turning off the wireless function, limiting myself to ONLY school related programs and sites. Bit by bit however I found myself delving into the horrific world of instant gratification. Stimulus and reward had crept into my life. It is a horrifying realization of course. At this point I’m graduating… and I am absolutely, 100% full of CONTEMPT for technology. It has ruined my ‘chi’. It has destroyed my spiritual peace of mind. I am no longer in the present, aware, and disciplined. I have been infected by a virus that seeks only new information… whatever interests me and rewards these impulses. My mind seeks these out and grows wary in most other stimulus inquiries. I say it’s a virus because it has grown worse and worse, almost ravaging me, and now I can say I am a participant that drags other fresh untainted minds into the realm of stimulus/ information consumption.

I HAVE tried ridding myself of this virus. I have planned and allotted time for quality reading and thinking. I do journal. I do seek peace on walks and reflections on nature. But, alas, I find myself in front of the computer at the end of the day, checking emails, and there they are- more distractions, links and stimulus. I hate it. Nay, I loath it.

As some one with ADHD… I NEED control. I CRAVE it. I have accepted that I cannot necessarily control the way I learn, so I adapt and learn to control other factors. I create novel ways with learning. I choose my environments wisely. These actions offer me a control to work around myself. But nowadays, in my current state, I feel helpless. Out of control. My mind wanders to the technology and it it’s robbed and abused. The satisfaction is so temporary that it genuinely leaves me with no lasting feelings. I must feed off it.

The concentration element is another story. My concentration has been so corrupted that even my desire and goal to achieve meaningful tasks has grown into a heaping obstacle. This actually coincides with the communication aspect. Because my concentration has been so abused, my ability to initiate meaningful conversations has dwindled. How? People, unlike the web pages and images that plaster the internet landscape, have depth. This depth needs to be explored… and people do NOT readily present this information. Nope. You are required as a human to become genuinely interested and do some work at finding it. Digging it out. Communicating requires a certain level of interest where digging into that depth is achieved. In this way a connection can occur. Problem is, people don’t have links covering their body. They don’t advertise the interesting stuff. It’s buried deep within them. To get it out, you must seek, dig, and poke around. You must concentrate, use some working memory, make connections and discover them.

ALAS, people in this era have lost the patience for such an art. Book reading is the same way. Books are long, with complex plots. They require an interest and concentration that allows you to dig up and make associations. Articles on the web, short summaries, twitters, wall posts and status updates hardly required this level of thought. It goes in and just as fast as it goes it, it leaves.

So, would I agree with Simpson? Hell yes. She is on the money.

Do I think this multitasking trend is a good thing? Nope.  But I could argue the other way as well. In terms of health, absolutely not. In terms of adapting to the cultural trends, of course it’s a good thing. How would you survive in today’s fast paced, information crunching culture?!

But our minds, bodies and spirits have not evolved with these trends. We need quiet contemplation. It rocks my world this non-stop stimulation. It’s not even physically taxing. Simply mundane. It adds no REAL value to my life. Networking online with other virtually faceless profiles is an unfulfilling practice. We are only furthering a narcissistic urge to advertise our uniqueness to the populace. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ALL THE FUN I HAVE! MY COOL QUOTES! MY AWESOME PICTURES! LOOK WHAT IT CONNOTES! DENOTES!

The truth is… it is not bringing us closer to our goals… UNLESS that goal is to flatter ourselves. Swear to God. What the hell are these networking sites for anyway? To get ourselves out to the world!?? ‘Look at me!’ we say with our profiles, ‘I am special and unique and bring value!’ The HUGE problem is, I find that most people, including myself, put MORE time into the networking aspect, than to the value they are trying to project.

How a person spends every second of their day defines who they are. If we got real with ourselves, we’d realize we spend diddly-squat time reading and doing the things we advertise as our passions when we COMPARE the time we spend on technology. Compare the time people spend leisurely listening on their IPODS to music to actually making music. Or the people who browse art ALL day long on the internet, but how many hours a day do they spend painting? COUNTLESS other examples…

I can’t imagine all the damage we’re doing to ourselves.

In the end its all about perspective. I’m not really convinced this technology revolution will aid in the overall health of those involved. I believe in simplicity. Mathematics, physics, and all other great sciences, depend on simplicity. I believe, in our life, we need it. A life with focus is a life with direction. What focus can people say they have? Perhaps this whole trend of multitasking is a focus itself…

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(I wrote this personal journal entry in January as a natural response to my own ruminations about the effects of the internet:

I’ve been wrestling lately. With thoughts. I’m wondering if the Internet is a bad or good thing. Most of my free time is spent reading blogs, e-mailing, watching videos, reading the news, checking updates or just plain surfing. I find that traditional reading has become more of a chore than it used to be.

It’s sad to think that’d I’d prefer to e-mail or message someone instead of call them on the phone. Catching up is done online. Catching up and conversing over a cup of coffee is almost unnecessary. I almost need something to do, like an activity or event to make our time a worthwhile experience. It seems like a waste of time when it’s all been said. After all the updates are read and all the blogs are perused, what else is there?

This is not a new thought or debate by any means. I feel that as much as this technology has made it easier and brought us together, I feel that we’re grown more alienated and impersonal than ever before. Even now I express these thoughts electronically, publicly.

I have a hard time remembering when certain people really knew me. When our relationship was something special and unique. That only a handful of people had the opportunity of knowing my day to day thoughts. I’ve become so transparent I feel lost. Where is the fidelity of a deep friendship?

Maybe this is a temporary feeling. I don’t know. I suppose I’m speaking to a very niche crowd. I know there are many nonconformists who live free of the networking hassle.

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ADD

My focus seems to be intermittently interrupted on an all to usual basis. This makes for constant, extremely frustrating, efforts of redirection. I would say that I’m plagued for the worst with a heavy millstone. Most would identify with the terminological acronym ADD, although I’d like to stray from this commonly coined, and all too misinterpreted term and say “overly interested”…in all things. It causes me to lose the most valuable thing a man has in his arsenal of defenses against life. His focus. I all to often lose touch with priorities, and the things that matter most in the personal development and achievement over my difficulties and goals. Once a worthy, noble, focus has been achieved the efforts to sustain and maintain the focus are comparable to keeping a match lit in a rainstorm. A massive array of distractions bombard and catch my attention, leaving me with little knowledge of the state of the priorities on hand. Unfortunately I stray in another direction and unknowingly I begin to lose a sense of where I’m at and why I’m doing what I’m doing. I question the habits i made for myself and slip into a confused analytical approach on life. Without my focus I’m lost. I’m in a dark room fumbling around. What I’ve realized though, is that I’ll never give up looking for the light switch.