Modern Education: The Efficacy and Necessity of State Dependent Learning

For a long time I’ve had qualms with our modern education system. My biggest complaint is the impersonal, dry, rigid, and seemingly irrelevant approach to memorizing and reguritating information. I often argue, as many people do, that formal education isn’t practical, that if fails to instill true comprehension and understanding, to fully engage a students mind and passions. I had an epiphany today that shed light on what this means exactly.

When I take tests, it’s typically in a hollow classroom on stiff chairs and cold desks. My ability to recall information with proficiency depends on massive inundation with a text, repetition of words and concepts, until I’ve drilled them far enough in my skull so that when I see a question with a certain combination of words, my mind retrieves the appropriate associated content. But this is not learning, per say; it’s regurgitation. My body and mind exist in a single state, an “academic” or school state, where all the information goes in and comes out the same way.

On the other hand, I often find myself in a certain context, a specific situation or circumstance, and I’m able to recall and converse and argue and expand on information and knowledge that many would be hard pressed to guess was residing within me. The ability to perform these acrobatic feats of comprehensive cognition requires that I’m in a specific state of mind which is engaged with the moment, the situation at hand. In every new circumstance, with every new set of problems I encounter, my perspective, and therefore mind, shifts and I enter into a state of consciousness that is perfectly adapted to produce solutions due to previous experience in that state.

What it all comes down to is recognizing the importance, nay, the all encompassing relevance, of state dependent learning. This is where school fails.

The ability to critically think requires engaging different perspectives. But school doesn’t necessarily teach diferent perspectives. Sure, they may encourage studying abroad and joing extracurriculars and what not, but real learning takes place within a specific state produced by a specific context, and all knowledge is born out these contexts and the problems inherent within them.

What modern education needs to emphasize is state dependent learning. Teach philosophy by philosophizing, by asking questions, by creating dialog and conflict and then seek resolution through thoughtful discourse. Teach math by providing postulates and propositions, then a problem, and have them prove the problem. Teach economics by evaluating a real company. Teach communications by role playing a real problem or agenda with real unpredictable variables. Teach accounting by throwing a person into a company and having them learn by going through and asking questions.

The reason for experiential learning is that all knowledge is procedural and therefore state dependent.

When education learns how to provide an environment that effectively presents material in this fashion, students will thrive.

Finale done.

And summer has begun. I just finished sending my last four essays. Total relief to be done.

Finals week is always so taxing. It’s incredible how much pressure you experience your last two weeks of school. The culmination of a semesters worth of effort is hinged on your last week of performance.

I have an atrocious amount of laundry that needs to get done. That’s priority number one. Followed by a thorough cleaning of my room. This involves vacuuming, a good dusting, and organizing all the course materials strewn about everywhere. If I didn’t live here, I’d be pretty appalled by my standards.

This semester… geeze. It’s probably… no, definitely, my most disappointing semester in college. Instead of focusing on academics I let myself get carried away with ephemeral indulgences. I failed to practice the discipline and self control that characterized my studies the past two and a half years. Why? Well.. no excuses really. I decided to get more social, something I knew would jeopardize my focus and, in turn, my studies. I did though. Am I better because of it? Not to my standards. Do I feel any better about myself? Not at all. So why? Eh..

I let myself buy into the idea that social life provides life with a richness. And it does, in the moment. And thats what I don’t like. These social investments are temporary ‘feel good’ exposures. From prior experience, I know they aren’t lasting. I think this is something that I really need to focus on absorbing. My whole life I’ve watched as I’ve poured myself into relationships, deep and wide, and ultimately watch them fade away as I moved on in life both literally and figuratively. In the end I come back to realizing that my energies could have been more wisely allocated in academics, thoughtful reflection, writing, reading, planning, hobbies, or other pursuits of personal development.

But I also recognize that a social life is necessary. The distinction between the social life I’m inclined to partake in and the social life I should partake in has to do with the type of socializing I do. Destructive or mindless activities such as heavy drinking, promiscuous encounters, or superficial antics to gain approval should have no place in a life with a purpose- assuming that purpose doesn’t entail the aforementioned. The kind of social activities and friends I should be entertaining should directly support the means to my ends. This means quality people involving quality conversations partaking in quality activities. These activities should have purpose and direction towards a higher chief aim.

I suppose this goes back to the maxim that if you value your self, then you value your time, and when you value your time, only then do you make the best use of it. Seeking self affirmation from others through mindless social interactions is an indication that your entire self worth isn’t fully recognized by you. As a result, we seek it from other people. Shame on us.

I love people, I truly do. They are my passion. Or actually, my passion is exploring life with people, engaging in critical debates and adventures that yield invaluable lessons and insights and experiences. Anyway…

Hm… what to do.

I guess I don’t have much else on my mind at the moment. I should start cleaning.

An Analysis of Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy and Modern Education

Freire’s educational philosophy is largely political and social in nature. This aim of his message is to bring attention to the structures that govern our perceptions. These structures are generative themes that frame perceptions and our real consciousness. In doing so an ‘awareness’ can be achieved. It is this very process of approaching these structures that develops our critical consciousness, or a phronesis of practical wisdom, which uses the praxis of reflection and action. Freedom is achieved through the development of this critical consciousness as we confront reality.

Exploring and confronting reality need to occur for knowledge to be acquired. It is the critical consciousness that is responsible for this task. However, he believes that we all operate in generative themes that are framed by real consciousness that contains limited perceptions. He sees that a critical consciousness using praxis of reflection and action takes one beyond real consciousness into the potential consciousness where new themes can be generated. A supposition for the confrontation of reality is that an objective reality exists independently from the consciousness that can be explored. However, he believes that our understanding and knowledge is limited by the generative themes, the perceptions of this reality, which are historically and culturally rooted. Since all humans exist independently and are integrally experiencing reality, he believes that communal discourse allows for reality to be mutually explored which in turn yields a much more comprehensive understanding.

The mutual exploration requires that humans see each other as equal subjects.  As subjects, we should exercise our critical consciousness to solve the pressing dilemmas that are relevant and approximate to us. We should live as beings in ourselves, as ends in ourselves, fully employing our creative faculties of freedom to confront the demands of reality that lead to a fulfilling life. According to Freire, “People are fulfilled only to the extent that they create their world (which is a human world), and create it with their transforming labor. The fulfillment of humankind as human beings lies, then, in the fulfillment of the world. If for a person to be in the world of word is to be totally dependent, insecure, and permanently threatened- if their word does not belong to them- the person cannot be fulfilled. Work that is not free ceases to be a fulfilling pursuit and becomes an effective means of dehumanization.” (145)

In sum, every human possesses the ability to exercise their critical consciousness, to reflect and act on the world, in order to transform it to meet their approximate dilemmas. This is their labor. We are ends in themselves.  In contrast to animals which merely live in the context appropriate to it, and do not transcend contexts and communicate about it, human activity is characterized by reflection and action, theory and practice. This is how knowledge is garnered. Knowledge is simply the product of reflection and action.
However, due to the oppressive structures that characterize their existential experience, many people do not develop a critical consciousness. As a result, this critical conscious is underdeveloped. Oppression, in all the manifestations mentioned, subdues this critical consciousness.
You cannot separate freedom from humanity. It is distinct. Likewise, you cannot separate knowledge from humanity. As long as humans exist in reality there are themes that give it context and meaning. The question is whose context and meaning. Are the people generating these themes, this knowledge about the world and personal problems, themselves from their direct experience? Or are they prescribed or dictated these themes and knowledge by other people?

Freire’s message is that oppression robs people of their freedom to confront their own problems which thus subdues the critical consciousness. Oppression occurs when humans objectify their fellow man instead of see them as subjects. This translates to subjects who own, and objects who are possessed. This manifests as those who own labor, and those who are labor; those who prescribe knowledge, and those who receive knowledge; those who make rules, those who follow rules; those who teach, those who memorize.  To retain power and dominance, the subjects do not want the dominated objects to develop a critical consciousness as subjects and think. This would upset the power balance and strip the oppressive subjects of their ability to control.
Learning occurs when problems are posed and the critical consciousness confronts and rises above the current perceived limitations of the real consciousness. (113) The aim is to for the critical consciousness to move beyond the real consciousness into the potential consciousness where generative themes can be synthesized to solve the pressing problems. It is important to recognize knowledge as cultural and historically rooted. It is relative to the place and problems of the people. To substitute direct experience and the contradictions that arise from that experience is to strip life of its meaning.

Our current academic institutions operate in this oppressive teacher-student, subject-object, dichotomy under the banking method, where knowledge is transferred from a teacher who is ‘enlightened’ to a student who is ‘unenlightened’. This is the wrong way to approach education because it reinforces the oppressive structure by preventing the student from developing their critical consciousness, thus suppressing their ability to critically cognize knowledge for themselves. The transfer of knowledge in this method is static, absolute and lifeless.

On the contrary, education should be a dialogical in a mutual, cooperative, co-intentional exploration of the problems relative to the individual. Under the problem posing method, a teacher is not the ‘teacher-of-the-student’ but rather a ‘teacher-student’, and the student is not the ‘student-of-the-teacher’ but rather a ‘student-teacher’. Mutual learning takes place in dialog between the student and teacher as they unveil reality together. There is a trust, humility, and love that unites the teacher and student to address the problems relative to the student. Knowledge in this method is treated as changing, relative, and lively.
Who are these teachers? They are those who have developed a critical consciousness and see the student not as an object, but a fellow subject, a fellow ‘I’, that aids in the exploration of reality and problems. If those who have a critical consciousness make the student an object, and thus manipulate and divide and conquer, they are not practicing the problem posing method characterized by love, trust and humility. Instead they are oppressing, just like the banking method. A human being as an object in the world and not as a subject suppresses their freedom, submerges the critical consciousness, and limits access to the potential consciousness which gives rise to developing our humanity more fully.

What effects would manifest in an oppressive society that is structured to suppress this critical consciousness? Regarding the malaise of our modern culture, let us suppose that the democraticAmericawe know and love is actually an oppressive system composed of an oppressive hierarchal structure composed of elites and the populous.  In a world flooded with information and knowledge that has been pre-cognized and pre-objectified, where all of our answers have been prescribed for us, what does this do to our humanity, our critical consciousness and freedom?

All information that is not derived from personal experience is sloganized and robbed of the approximate and relevant meaning to the individual. News and media is simply precognized knowledge or propaganda presented and perpetuated by those who ‘know best’. I have to wonder if the repercussions to such oppression manifest as psychological ailments of society. What if there are no ‘Learning disabilities’, or if ‘depression’ and ‘bipolar’ and the like, are simply the manifestations of an oppressed humanity, an oppressed freedom, that cannot cope with the prescribed expectations and seemingly irrelevant and foreign demands of our culture?

If family structures reflect societal structures, then the majority of households operate within this oppressive structure. If this is the case with our current society, then most family structures are characterized by authority in the home, usually a dominating patriarch. In my own life, I found that I could not escape the oppression at home, or in school. When I attended school, or church, I was met with the same authoritative structure that dictated foreign demands and expectations. Teachers would lecture in front of the classroom and I was expected to engage in rote memorization, as if I were an empty receptacle to be filled with someone else’s cognitions of the world. In school, students are not given the opportunity, nor are they encouraged, to engage the world’s contradictions and coin relevant meaning. Instead, students are expected to passively consume someone else’s lifeless narrative of how things are. These structures suppress the critical consciousness, the curiosity for life and the world, by delegitimized our own ‘word’ and experience with the world. This oppression turns into listlessness, depression or rebellion against authority. These expressions are simply a result of ‘oppression’. Rebellion is a revolt against this authority. With this oppressive structure in mind, it’s queer to see how society treats us as problems and seeks to ‘prescribe’ its remedies. Children nowadays are diagnosed with a concoction of physiological dysfunctions that ranged from mood disorders to learning disabilities. Psychiatrists and psychologists attempt to assess and ‘treat’ patients with their own ideologies, and yet the rebellion continues.

I was personally met with this seemingly inescapable oppression which eventually drove me into rebellion as I sought escape from reality through drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until after high school, when I was kicked out of my house and forced to live on my own that I experienced true freedom. For the first time in my life I was met with a profound freedom. The realization that I could be whoever and do whatever I wanted, that I could transform my life according to my passions and the dreams of my heart, that I experienced true joy in life.
From that point on I no longer struggled with substance abuse (although the habits and dependencies that had formed created challenges), nor did I see learning as a chore, a mindless endeavor of rote memorization with no significance or context. I could engage reality freely, independently, and create meaning and context as according to the passions and curiosities that affirmed my being. Everything came to life.
Any human, be it parents or teachers, should lay foundations of trust and love and humility as the starting point for all human development. Exploration of reality should be a cointentional effort.

However, one must wonder if there something lost by appeasing the undeveloped and nascent thematic understandings of reality in people. As much as Freire advocates a horizontal playing field where every relationship and community is to be considered valuable and legitimate at illuminating themes as a whole, understanding all people as equals creates an imbalance.            People are at different stages of reflection. How can one expect effective discourse to take place when illiteracy and proper reason, poisoned by superstitions, is rooted in their minds? Freire addresses this in the opening preface by referencing a meeting with peasants where a fear of freedom led some to think that this revolution of the critical consciousness could lead to a fanaticism. He mentioned the factory worker that described his transition from being naïve to critical and that while he still didn’t have all the answers, he did not experience a collapse of his world.

If one argues that there are principles that first must me ‘instilled’ in students before exploration can begin, they are overlooking the very freedom contained in humanity that allows him to explore and transform and learn from reality. If these principles exist, we need to be critical and ask their origin, as well as what their functional aim intends. This objective reality is not privy space accessed only by the elites, but an objective reality that can be learned by every human so long as there is a relevant problem to be solved. While these principles seem to offer a starting point for reason and reflection, by exploring reality with a critical consciousness, these principles can be derived from direct experience. In this way people can come to understand and utilize these principles in a way that gives meaning and context while preserving their humanity.

Bibliography

 

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed.New York: Continuum, 2000. Print.

 

School

I leave for school in a few days. Pretty stoked. I went shopping today… spent entirely too much money…but it feels so good.

New thoughts? I’ve been coasting really. I need to begin refining my personal philosophy and living it out more actively. I need to hash our what exactly I believe. Maybe a journal entry, maybe I’ll write a paper. While Ayn Rands Philosophy of Objectivism comes across a little cold and egocentric at times, its about the most accurate portrayal of a personal philosophy I could see myself living. Think more 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…

********

(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…

********

(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.

**********