Technology: Are you its Master or Slave?
By Wendy Ford
Instead of using technology to augment and enhance their discovery of knowledge, not just accumulating facts, folks today are becoming enslaved by that very technology.
Before reading on you might want to try an experiment with this simple exercise: Turn off the phones, every one of them, the computer, the Blackberry, the TV, the stereo (sorry, I-Pod) and dim the lights. Put the dog or cat in the bedroom. Find a timer, sit down in a comfortable chair, set the timer for 10 minutes, OK 5 will do as I heard the groan and thoughts of “I don’t have 10 minutes”. If need be the bathroom is an excellent refuge and people will be less likely to bother you there. Close your eyes and just “be”.
How did you do? Did you start to feel agitated and restless? Did you have to jiggle your legs, think about all the things you should/could be doing instead of “wasting” 5 minutes? Did you even make it the 5 minutes? If you can’t sit alone with just yourself for 5 minutes you might be addicted to technology. You might be so enslaved by your senses that you can’t go for 5 minutes without being bombarded by sensations generated by your environment.
You Might Be a Slave to Technology If:
You can’t sit alone with yourself for 5 minutes in a quiet room. Being able to allow yourself to sink into and immerse yourself in the flow that is the very essence of the meditation of the Lord of Life, the Source that results in the manifestation of the Universe is so simple. Yet so few are able to quiet their actions and thoughts for even 5 minutes so enslaved are they to the input of the physical senses.
You haven’t had a meaningful conversation or dialogue with anyone including your spouse or family members that you can immediately bring to mind. Meaningful means more than how was your day (date, trip, concert, meeting, new car, night out dancing and drinking, you fill in the blank), or how are you (please answer in less than twenty words because I don’t really want to know and am only asking out of politeness or convention). Meaningful conversation means dialoging and discussing ideas, concepts, beliefs, feelings (yes those really scary, scary things that even you avoid to have self dialogue about), viewpoints, and opinions. It is the honest and genuine exchange of thoughts with another, the kind of conversation that you can come away from with a different perspective on an idea or concept that just might cause you to pause and reflect and actually change your mind about something.
You have no clue as to why you believe any of the things you do or how you came to believe them. Just take one belief or opinion. Upon what evidence and from what knowledge has that belief or opinion been formed? Which philosophical branch does it fall under, Platonic or Aristotelian/Sophistry? What historical evidence is there to support that belief or opinion? What is the opposite view? If are unaware of an opposing view then the equation upon which you have based your belief is unbalanced.
When was the last time you felt your physician or surgeon really listened to what you had to say? People skills or what we used to call a “bedside manner” aren’t taught in medical school with any import. Sometimes physicians get so engrossed in test results that they don’t really listen or see what the patient is telling them. A past episode of the television show House dealt with a patient who presented with symptoms and went through test after test after test with a multitude of treatments that were of no success. Finally one of the physicians looked at the blood sample under the microscope and instantly saw that a parasite was the culprit. But none of the mechanized tests had picked it up. The comment was something like, “If anyone had actually looked at this sample instead of using the computers we would have had the right answer a lot sooner.” Fortunately in my world of Home Health technology is pretty hard to take into a client’s home. My best tools still reside in my hands, head and heart.
You can’t remember what it’s like to watch the clouds move across the sky shifting shapes and taking on resemblances to animals or faces. Haven’t you recently even just stood quietly in the back yard or on your patio and just looked UP?
You take your Blackberry into the bathroom so you don’t waste any time.
You can talk on your cell phone, chat on line in 2 or more rooms and check your e-mail, grab a sandwich and soda, and watch a program on TV all at the same time.
You can’t make change for a purchase in your head. You can’t compute a 15% or 20% tip in your head. It has been proven that being able to do calculations in your head keeps your mind limber and active and just might help slow the effects of senility and Alzheimer’s disease.
You don’t carry any money or coins in your pockets. You have separation anxiety if you inadvertently leave your debit card at home.
You can’t read a clock with a dial on it and have no idea what to do with a rotary phone.
You didn’t realize you could boil water on a stove in a pan of water and you can’t use a manual can opener.
You don’t own any stationary. You know, the pretty paper that is used to write notes by hand on with a pen and then actually drop in the post box.
Your child can use a remote control device before he can get a spoon to his mouth.
There is rarely a conversation about anything while driving since each occupant of the vehicle is plugged into his or her I-Pod, Game Boy, cell phone or portable DVD player.
You don’t own any hardcover books and have never fallen asleep snuggled deeply into the bed pillows with the lights on while reading a book. Have you never been reading four or five books at the same time with a book going in every room? Instead you might be more familiar with the experience of nodding off and planting your face in your keyboard.
You have never had a library card, have no idea what the Dewey Decimal Point System is, don’t know what “the stacks” are and have no instant recall of the smell of the library.
You think a saucepan and wooden spoon have merely the function of being used to cook.
How many of you remember the delight and fascination with and the myriad of uses for a wooden spoon and a saucepan? Those 2 items could occupy us from the time we were old enough to hold the spoon up to puberty when other things started to take precedence. Initially it was just a delight to be able to hold the darn spoon and learn the many ways to manipulate it. It could be a great noisemaker on the high chair and as dexterity and ingenuity developed it could be used to shove anything onto the floor and provided endless glee and hours of pure delight training our family members to pick things up. Later we discovered we could shove disliked food items onto the floor and if we were very careful we could time it just right so that the family dog could catch the item without our parent noticing.
As we grew older and could sit unsupported on the kitchen floor Mom added the saucepan to the spoon and it wasn’t long before we connected banging on the highchair to banging on the pot. What a delightful sound as it clanged often causing the family dog to seek refuge out of earshot. Then we discovered the pot could be turned right side up and you could put things in it. Then take them out. Then put them back in. The pot could be a helmet and the spoon a sword as the knight went off to save the damsel in distress. The spoon could be a magic wand that stirred the potions in the pot. Or the spoon could bang a fine imagined tune to a unique rhythm on the pot. The spoon could be a microphone and the pot a fine hat as tiny voices exercised their power of music. Later as ambulation became possible the pot could be used to carry dirt from one pile to another in the yard, the spoon could dig the hole that we swore one day we could get deep enough to reach China.
All that activity from a simple saucepot and a wooden spoon. We didn’t need any high tech gizmos or gadgets. Sometimes I wonder if all the fancy bells and whistles aren’t more for the amusement of the parent than the child. Granted studies have shown that the introduction of bright colors is advantageous to the intellectual stimulation. I am not aware of any studies that have shown that learning to use a computer by the age of 3 has any particular long term benefit to the overall intellectual, emotional or psychological development of a child. More importantly has been shown the longer lasting positive effects of a young child being regularly read to and engaged in verbal communication and interaction.
NPR radio host Diane Rehm had a guest on her segment, The Diane Rehm Show, right after the New Year talking about the power of unstructured play and how critical it is to a child’s development. I only caught about 5 minutes of the show and didn’t catch her guest’s name. In further searching I did find an article about Dr. David Elkind that leads me to believe perhaps he was her guest that day. In any event Dr. David Elkind’s powerful article is well worth reading, The Power of Play, He states that we are robbing our children of the development of critical interpersonal skills by pushing them earlier and earlier into structured programs from preschool to after school intramural activities, dance lessons, music lessons, martial arts training, and the like. That the loss of unstructured play might actually have the effect of a disservice to our children rather than the benefit or advantage so hoped for with the best of intentions of parents and teachers.
Our educational system is now fully Information Theory based rather than being based in the format of the Classical Model. In the early 1950’s the Information Theory became popular and was introduced as the be all and end all for an educational system. It has since been disproved but somehow the Sophists have managed to ensnare our public education system and continue to ignore evidence to the contrary.
Our society has become so immersed and obsessed with the accumulation of bits of information and facts that many mistakenly consider this to be Knowledge. No longer does public education teach facets and aspects of critical thinking, debate, dialogue and true exploration that will lead to the discovery of principles and Knowledge. Knowing how to navigate through the Internet and run and manage operational systems can be useful when used as skills with which to use the tools to gather information and facts but if there has been no training in how to interpret, analyze and discern the import or meaning of the data there can be no true knowledge gained or discovered.
In her article, What is Classical Education Susan Wise Bauer writes, “A classical education is more than simply a pattern of learning, though. Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television).” “A classical education…has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.”
The growing popularity of homed-based education programs gives hope that many parents are recognizing the increasing inadequacy of Public Education. Many home schooling programs are using the Classical Model and there are great resources on the Internet regarding the setting up of a home-based education program.
If our Public Education system were to revert back to the Classical Model that would mean people would actually become educated, become knowledgeable and be able to think. That would enable them to not become slaves to the technology and information but rather be able to actually become users of that information and technology in meaningful ways. They would be able to discuss, analyze, discern dialogue and ask questions. That would threaten the sophistry-based worlds of business and politics. The last thing they want is for the average Joe Citizen to be able to think, be able to ask probative questions and to want to have rationale and reasons for decisions. Wouldn’t it be awful if people were able to see through the illusions and actually see the lies and deceptions? Wouldn’t it just rock their world if people were to say, “Now wait a minute, just what is going on here and what are you up to? Can you explain the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of this? And I am not going to stop asking or go away until I get an honest answer.” The last Autumn’s election results indicate that more and more people are starting become more aware and to question.
Please do not misunderstand. There is nothing wrong with having technology available for our use. It is technological advances in all areas that enable us to do many of the things we do every day and indeed our very survival is dependent upon it. It is a vital and integral part of our society, but having a society enslaved by technology is to be able to control that society. Keep the masses entertained and amused and they won’t notice what is really going on behind the curtain.
So, how are you doing? Are you a bit bothered and disconcerted? Are you starting to look at the ways you use or are used by technology? Do you have a different view of our Public Education system? Are you wondering how the effects of technology are affecting your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews? Good. Keep exploring and looking and examining and questioning.
May the Lord of Life provide the glass cleaner and elbow grease to enable you to see more clearly what is going on around you and breathe the air into your lungs with which to give voice to your questions and objections.