Brain Shrinkage

According to this report, all our multitasking, especially on social media, is shrinking our brains. This lends new meaning to the phrase, “dumbing down.”

Given that we live in a 21st century world that demands that we attend to multiple things at once—how do we at least keep some of this at an arm’s length, or at least fortify ourselves and temper some of this “shrinkage”?

While it might be grand (or overly dramatic) to demand that you “kill your TV,” I’m guessing that solution isn’t one that most people are going to opt for. However, you might cut your television viewing—I’ve been working at it for the last month and it’s really not that bad. After 29 days of no television, Miss Mary and I watched a classic movie starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert Sunday night. I think we might limit our viewing to TCM on Sunday nights.

Social media is all around us and an argument can be made that there’s some value in at least being aware of it, and using it judiciously. Like television, the key is limiting the potential for it becoming a time suck and a distraction. There’s 24 hours in the day for all of us. Successful people leverage their time wisely. Writers especially, have to be mindful of how the Internet disrupts contemplative periods and invades the space necessary to write longer works than a 500-word blog post.

The method I discovered nearly 20 years ago—the one that allows me to march to my own drummer and guard against falling prey to the All-American mind fuck taking place—is reading. And I read avidly and have done so since. Btw, when I mention “reading,” I mean books.

Books are an autodidact's best friend.

Books are an autodidact’s best friend.

Most Americans don’t read. I’m not sure where they obtain their information, but it’s pretty easy to see when doing casual research (like on Facebook) that there is some pretty heavy binary regression taking place.

The summer of 1997 was when I invested time, after years of neglecting reading, to work my way through some weighty tomes. I read John Calvin, Neil Postman, Lewis Mumford, Jacques Ellul, and I plowed through some Dostoyevski that summer, while between jobs. That’s when I discovered and enrolled at the University of Autodidactica, where reading is primary. I’ve continued on that path for the past 17 years.

Here’s my 2014 reading list with three months to go. I’m at 47 books and counting. After dabbling in fiction back-to-back, it’s back to nonfiction again for book # 48, this time, taking on the “prison industrial complex.” Reading is why I’m not taken in by the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” rhetoric that’s overrun the country for the last 30 years that’s led to a dramatic rise in people incarcerated, with bipartisan support coming from both Democrats and Republicans.

While I’m pleased with my robust reading efforts this year, someone I know has a running list that’s even more ambitious. Color me impressed!

One thought on “Brain Shrinkage

  1. My i-phone has been dying, albeit slowly (very slowly) and some applications (like Facebook) don’t run very well. Because of this, I haven’t been staying “wired” as much as I previously did. It has been refreshing to be “free” of the gadgets.

    When I think about the cultural sprint to embrace social media and the idea that we can be “on” and “available” all the time, a song from the 60’s runs through my head, one of the anthems of the Baby Boomers.

    “Harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding. No more falsehoods or derisions, golden living dreams of visions, mystic crystal revelations, and the mind’s true liberation, Aquarius, Aquarius.”

    What a joke.

    Yep…nothing new under the sun. Just another gadget The Salesman wants to sell. The new “Aquarius Phone.”

    I love “It Happened One Night.”

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