I Couldn’t Even Read the Whole Article
25 July 2009
A pile of work to do today, most of it on the computer; instead I baked cookies, sat outside staring at the grass, talked to the dog. Read a little (a book, not a screen). Can’t seem to get clear-headed or focused. Very tired, and blah.
Opened my email and gingerly clicked on a link from a friend to an article in the London Times about digital-info overload. Of course, I didn’t get through all of it. But here are highlights. Thanks, SKB — today, this is definitely me.
…the sense of mind-lag and unease that result from info-overload may be causing significant levels of anxiety and depression.
The concerns have been raised by two newly published studies which indicate that streaming digital news may now run faster than our ability to make moral judgments. Rapid info-bursts of stabbings, suffering, eco-threat and war are consumed on a “yes-blah” level but don’t make us indignant, compassionate or inspired. It seems that the quicker we know, the less we may care — and the less humane we become.
One fear is that habitual rapid media-browsing can, ironically, block our ability to develop wisdom. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, announced recently that they had compiled compelling evidence that even the universal traits of human wisdom — empathy, compassion, altruism, tolerance and emotional stability — are hard-wired into our brains. In Archives of General Psychiatry, Professor Dilip Jeste says that neurons associated with those attributes seem to be sited primarily in areas of the prefrontal cortex — the slower-acting, recently evolved regions of our brain that are bypassed when the world feels stressful and our primitive survival instincts grab the controls.