Thoughts on the Effects that Media and the Internet have on today’s Culture

 

Gray Matter of the Modern Brain overloaded on technology

Gray Matter of the Modern Brain overloaded on technology

Media and Culture class has been an educational exercise in grasping the synergy of history, technology and culture with the resulting effects on society. The great expansion of man’s progress, from sitting around a fire telling stories to the computer age, is cataloged somewhere on the World Wide Web.  The computing cloud of information is available to an increasing number of people. The task is to find meaning in the sharing of that knowledge.

  1. William Sikes, the author of “Technology: Taking Over the World and Our Lives,” cites a study indicating Americans spend over nine hours watching television, using the Internet, and depending on cell phones daily. He posits or contends this dependence on technology diminishes social skills, adversely affects education, and creates a lazy society. Based on research, determine if this argument has merit.

 

Since submitting the final project hypothesis that the above statement  has merit, two books, numerous  articles and all assigned chapters in the text have been read and considered. The answer is complicated and part of a new age culture. The argument has merit; however, the new technologies have benefits as well as drawbacks. The answer is somewhere in a growing computing cloud of information somehow connected on a World Wide Web, and its meaning is as different and varied as the users who view the content. “Our thoughts are powerful creative forces floating in the ether ready to accomplish their purpose when they are concentrated and consciously directed.” PY[1]

Daniel G. Amen, M.D., posits in his latest book, Magnificent Mind at Any Age, that excessive use of; TV, video games, computers, e-mails, the Internet, instant messaging and cell phones, is bad for our brains. Learning  is adversely affected in the development stage, “For every hour a day that babies eight to sixteen months old were shown educational videos they knew six to eight fewer words than other children,” according to Amen, citing a report in the Journal of Pediatrics (Journal of Pediatrics 151(4):384-368). He goes on to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all for children younger than twenty-four months. Infants and toddlers learn language socially from interaction with other human beings, and in experiencing the real world around them. In another study, the chance of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is increased ten percent for every hour a day of TV watching (Pediatrics 113(4):708-713). Factors in brain illness including strokes and Alzheimer’s disease can be linked to the higher body mass indices, lack of physical fitness, cigarette smoking and increased cholesterol found in TV watching for 1000 children born in 1972-1973 in New Zealand and followed to age 26 (Lancet 364(9430:257-262). Brain health and learning appear to be affected adversely by excessive TV use. The Office of the Surgeon General suggests limiting TV and other screen time to less than two hours per day (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html).

Doctor Amen has found thru brain imaging that video games use the basal ganglia area of the brain. This area is one of the pleasure centers of the brain and excessive use of these games can hook people similar to drug dependence. Social interaction is affected when excessive time is spent using video games. School work, job performance and interaction with others diminished (Amen, 2008 pg. 36).  Studies from the University of Missouri found a connection to aggression and violent real-life situation video games. Delinquency increased and academic performance decreased with increased game use. An increase in violent thoughts and behavior was also found along with a decrease in helping behavior. None of this helps education, social interaction, or brain health (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(4):772-790, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2005 Nov 31).

Excessive use of computers, Internet, instant messaging, and cell phones can become addictive and have an adverse effect on social interaction, communication  and connection. Productivity at work and family interaction can be adversely affected by use of modern mass media technology. Time spent using technological connections take away from face to face communication. According to Amen (2008), “drowsiness, tiredness and an increasing inability to focus reached startling levels,” and “research subjects’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges” with each new e-mail.  In studies at King’s College, London University, average IQ loss was 10 points in people who felt a need to reply to each e-mail with resulting constant changes of direction and focus.

Answering cell phones or text messages in the middle of having a face to face conversation can hurt relationships. The person present is taking the time to connect and it is disrespectful to put them off to answer an unknown and less personal technical connection. The hierarchy of focused commitment in communication starts with face to face. Focused commitment decreases and is less focused with the use of voice, e-mail and text messaging. In synchronous communication language can be enhanced by inflection, body language, facial expressions and the sensing of emotion. Asynchronous communication as in e-mail and texting is convenient because both sender and receiver do not have to be present at the same time, however, it is impersonal and emotion cannot be conveyed (Snyder, Lawrence. 2008). Other drawbacks with Internet, e-mail, and texting include uncertainty in emphasis, loss of conversational pace, and an increase in ambiguity. Emoticons are insufficient in conveying emotion,JL they are cute but do not indicate how happy and sad, or why the emotion is felt. Blogging (web logs) is an innovation of Internet use which connects people in on-line discussions over subjects of common interest. Information is shared but the quality does not always match the quantity. Some bloggers post well thought out and researched opinions, sometimes with Web addresses for checking. Others post impulsively, without thought or backup information. Learning in this kind of Internet environment is possible but never guaranteed. The positive is in the sharing of language and posts, with the only cost being the time you invest. The blogs are democratic and open to opinions from anyone who logs on and participates. Negatives are found in a stunted conversational pace and ambiguity of message.

Positives involved in Information Society Technology are that computers and Internet access with a broadband connection make available massive amounts of information to search, review, and share. Internet access is available and used by an increasingly large population of individuals, groups, governments, organizations and businesses. The connections have the potential to close distance in seeking communication with people of all nations, races, religions and political bent. The Denver Public Library (DPL) is Tapping Into Media in recognition of how libraries need to compete for attention with advances in technology use. Embracing mass media helps to broaden a libraries appeal. Podcasts are created by teens at the Boulder Public Library which provide news, reviews, and interviews. The Public library of Charlotte, NC, has videos produced by teens and a dedicated YouTube channel. Libraries are tapping into the great expanse of audio and video on the Web to reach out to computer and internet users. DPL has a children’s story podcasting service. The library is branching out to include YouTube, Facebook and Myspace pages. Expanding to the Web and adding Audio/Visual content reaches out to computer and Internet users and draws them into the resources a library offers. Libraries physical hours are limited; however, the Internet is open 24/7 creating a time shifting of programming which can be accessed at the convenience of the user (Library Journal, v133, n15 p22-25 Sep 2008).

Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch, provides an apt and amazing review of how mankind developed and adapted new technologies, and how those technological advances affect modern culture. A big switch is occurring with print and audio visual media moving to digital form. Carr mentions Yale professor Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Nations. Benkler cites three technological advances which make the big switch possible. 1) The physical machinery is available in advanced economies. 2) The raw materials are public goods including existing information, knowledge and culture. 3) the Internet provides the platform to use the goods. These advances allow individual access to the goods in order to improvise, collaborate and create (Carr 2008 p 140). A benefit of Internet technology can be found in what businesses call “crowdsourcing,” the practice of the masses producing without ownership of the products they create through collaboration. Crowdsourcing is a mixed benefit as knowledge is gained and shared, but jobs are lost and the wealth gap grows wider (Carr p 142). The newspaper and publishing industries are struggling to adapt and shift to Internet versions of their products. Many jobs are lost to the information available on the Web. The Web also spies on individuals, using cookies to track sites visited and products reviewed and purchased. The search engine Google uses algorithms to reach deeper as the store of data increases. Privacy loss is an adverse effect of Internet use. Information available in the World Wide Web is obtained easily; however, the data has no guarantee of being correct or authentic. Playwright Richard Foreman discusses the old ideal of a “highly educated and articulate personality—a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the west,” which he fears is being lost to current technologies. He feels that the complex inner density is lost to an overload of information, instantly available. Foreman fears we are turning into “pancake people—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information….” (Carr p 226-7)

“Sherlock Holmes, the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, often amazed his loyal friend Dr. Watson by drawing a correct conclusion from an array of seemingly disparate and unconnected facts and observations. The method of reasoning used by Sherlock Holmes is abduction” (Patokorpi, 2007). Information Technology must be used carefully as we look for clues on the Web by following links just as Sherlock Holmes uses clues. Paths are made by focused searches recorded with technological tracking such as bookmarks, RSS feeds, and the drop down history list. Information detectives need to find information and meaning in that information by forming a feedback loop. The data must be found in replication by following other links to other sources and clues. Forward or back, facts need to be checked for accuracy to find truth in the search. The answer to the question, does Computer/Internet use make us lazy, can be found in this discussion. Information is found easily with the push of a start button and aimlessly following links. Good information requires detective skills and work, in a constant feedback loop of checking and revising (Patokorpi, 2007).

The effects of Information Technology on the family are both positive and negative.  Families of old sat near the fireplace, single radio, or TV sharing time together.  Today’s families spend less time together but stay connected with technology. A summary, from a recent study of 2,252 families conducted Dec. 13, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008, covers the subject well.  1) Technology enables connectedness with cell phone, texting and internet experiences.  2) Families are less likely to share meals and have less leisure time. 3) Cell phone allows parents to touch base and coordinate. 4) Internet use can have shared “Wow” moments. 5) Those surveyed include a majority who believe their family life is as close as when they grew up. 6) The new tools help people stay connected with friends and family, however, technology use blurs the line between work and home with Internet, cell phone, blackberry and texting taking work home and taking time from family. 7) TV use has decreased as Internet use increases. 8) People have less time for relaxing (Kennedy, Wells, & Wellman, 2008).

Information Technology allows all connected to play but few will reap monetary rewards. Connection can be found with communication distance instant over miles. Physical space is increased with face to face connections decreased. Excessive use of technology can have adverse effects on brain health, social connection, family time, and loss of jobs. Knowledge is available but must be carefully researched and used. Privacy must be guarded. Connection is maintained with cell phone, texting, blackberry, computer and Internet use. Nuance in sharing, and emoting face to face lessens. Democracy may expand or government may seek control. There are more questions in flux than fully answered. The technology is relatively new and expanding. The written word remains important because the new data storage requires electricity, a big switch which could take the advances back to old ways.  The talented visionaries of our past have developed concepts and ideas while staying warm with others around a fire. The written word recorded and spread that knowledge to others. Today a crossroads, a cusp has been reached. Good or bad, change is here, man and society will adapt in a giant feedback loop started by firing up the computer and sharing separately around the monitors.

Bibliography

Carr, N. (2008). The Big Switch, Rewiring The World, From Edison to Google. New York, NY, USA: W.W.    Norton & Company, Inc.

Daniel G. Amen, M. (2008). Magnificent Mind At Any Age. New York, NY, USA: Harmony Books, Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.

General, O. o. (2008). Parents and Caregivers Checklist. http://surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html . Washington D.C., USA: US Department of Health & Human Services.

Jeske, M. (2008, Sep.). Tapping into Media. Library Journal, v133 n15 p22-25 . USA: 2008 Library Journal, Reed Business Information, Reed Elsevier, Inc.

Patokorpi, E. (2007). Logic of Sherlock Holmes in Technology Enhanced Learning. Educational Technology and Society, v10 n1 p171-185 . IAMSR, Åbo Akademi University, Joukahaisgatan 3-5A, 20520 Åbo, , Finland: Educational Technology & Society Peer Reviewed Journal.

Pothier, K. (2008, Oct 9). Is Clicking Around Making Us Stupid? What does information technology do to our brains? NH, USA: Pothier, Term Paper IT 100.

Pothier, K. (2008, Oct 2). Language and Information Technology. NH, USA: Kenneth Pothier, Term Paper, ENG 350.

Richard Campbell, C. R. (2008). Media & Culture an introduction to mass communication. Boston, New York, USA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Snyder, L. (2007). Fluency with Information Technlogy. Boston, San Francisco, New York, USA: Addison Wesley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Inner Reflections 2009 Engagement Calendar-Selections from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda

Writing 201: Poetry: Trust: Acrostic

Acrostic: using the alphabet or a section of it vertically and writing lines off of it.

Taking a word and writing lines off of it to create a poem

. TRUST

Truth is essential for it is the only thing that does not change.

Relationships of all kinds depend upon it for true connection and communication.

Understanding each other in calm contemplative conversation becomes possible.

Solutions and compromise occur in its’ presence

Trust-Worthiness is an admirable characteristic for which all should strive. TRUST!!…

Writing 201:Poetry:Hero(ine):Ballad:anaphora

Anaphora: repetition of a word or cluster of words in a poem or prose poem.

I awoke with longing and frustration in my being. In a life tinged with sorrow I could not shake the feeling of the dream.

If I could not write:

I could live with it, carry it, carry on, and not put the heavy load of feeling down.

I could make a blanket of my tears for they roll down and carry salt of the earth.

I could leave signs, in the bank of streams and water’s edge of lake and ocean, where waves of wind, water, and time could wear them away.

I could etch my life sketch in stone, but there is too much to say, and words alone would consume the day.

I could read signs of nature and learn to live in wilderness on my own.

I could watch the seasons pass never knowing when it’s my last.

Could I not write?

Feelings, emotion, experience, knowledge, and lessons learned, would stay lost in time.

Though experienced and felt, never seen, not thought out, and only mine.

Dark and lost in shadow, never letting in the light of memory and time perspective,

Never leaving a clue to how I found my way as pathfinder.

My Faithful Instrument

My Faithful Instrument

The Music of my life
The Beat of my heart
The Dance of a lifetime
The Joy and Laughter of my Spirit
The perfect rhythm and movement of each all of my days
The sweetest of melodies
The heat of love and compassion
The warmth and tender closeness of the waltz
The stage for my performances
Your body and spirit are my smooth and perfect instrument
And together in each other’s arms exist the only safe place and piece of heaven I have ever found
Handled with care
We will play on….

“Ass in the chair is the only rule of art.” Donald Murray

Ernest Hemingway and Donald Murray

What I continue to learn! Why I am inspired by these giants of writing.
I have experienced 6 weeks of Monday night classes at Donald Murray’s home in Durham. I sat in as a want to be writer with writers of varied experience in his living room. I worked on a Friday night deadline for 6 weeks and held to it. The secret Don said was to write. He did not believe in writers block. He said to start with a word and go from there.

I have experienced 7 weeks of a class: Ernest Heming way: The Paris Years. It has been an ever changing and interesting experience. I only knew of Hemingway from his book The Old Man and the Sea and the short stories The Hills of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. I was amazed and inspired by all three works.

So I have gone from The Paris Years to the Portsmouth Ideas and enjoyed the ride. As Sir Robert said on the first night of class, that it is ‘’Like a river ever flowing, ever changing.” I have discovered that the more I read of EH and DM the faster the river flows, quickening the pace of change. There is so much to learn so much to mine for the craft of writing.
Mr. Wheeler also quoted Donald Murray, “I have to fight the tendency to think I know the subject I teach.” Ernest and Donald were now forever intertwined in supplying inspiration after that first night of class. I left that night enthused and looking forward to my readings and the next class.
I read of generations passing and searching for meaning in “The Sun Also Rises” and immediately realized a connection between EH and DM. They were both great observers of what is happening all around them. Murray had said in class that to be a writer one must see what others do not and craft a way to let them see what they missed.
I learned that there have been countless biographies on EH since his untimely 1961 death and that as a Journalist, Travel Writer, Short Story Writer and Writer of novels that he had squirreled away lots of writing. He did this despite being a womanizer, a drinker, a sportsman and a husband and father.

As a Journalist Hemingway covered stories for the Kansas City Star and then as an expatriate freelance writer covering post war Europe. I found that he learned valuable lessons there about writing in a concise manner. From the 1954 book, The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway the Early Years by Charles A. Fenton much was gleaned. Ernest Hemingway was a working newspaperman both intermittently and for long intervals during the years Oct. 1916 and Dec. 1923. Other influences were War, Travel, and Sport. His work habits were extensive, sustained and purposeful. He wrote expatriate fiction in 1922-3. In a very real sense his apprenticeship never ended. Hemingway had durability, he was demanding, always growing and had rigid discipline when it came to writing. He said to a friend in 1949, “I’m apprenticed out at it until I die. Dopes can say you mastered it. But I don’t know nobody ever mastered it, nor could not have done better.” [At it]
Hemingway only worked at the Kansas City Star for 7 months but the rules from the papers style sheet book had 110 rules which stayed with him for live. Language and words could never from this point be lightly regarded (pg. 32). In 1940 Hemingway said, “I’ve never forgotten them, no man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides by them (pg. 34). Some rules were simple; like never use old slang, avoid use of adjectives, and use short sentences. The only way to improve your writing is to write. The English language yields to simplicity through brevity (pg. 43). Charles Fenton an English Instructor at Yale said, “It wasn’t the literary hothouse of Paris in the 20’s that shaped Hemingway so much as fledgling High school journalism in Oak Park, Ill. and the newsrooms of Kansas City and Toronto.”
Journalism was writing for the moment; as such it was doomed to the death of topicality but the fiction writer by adding invention to experience gave his work the possibility of enduring life. Hemingway granted that it was okay to begin in journalism because it lumbers you up and gives you a command of the language, it was good practice. [Read Paragraphs pg. 232 and 225]

Notes:
Hemingway peaked early, burned out early, copped out and exited early missing a head, yet left a body of work. He lived his time fully but not a full life because you must finish the journey and he up and quit. He left a mess for others to decipher. He was another casualty of another lost and searching generation.
“Old’ man take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you. I need someone to love me the whole day thru. Ah! One look at my eyes and you can tell that’s true” (Neil Young). I am not Hemingway but I do write. I am only alive because I put up a fight to survive. I mine for the words and a heart of gold. Pray I do not lose the spontaneity. Did EH become so tough because his name was Ernest or because he was? EH and DM were both bears of a man. Their paths may have crossed. DM knew of EH’s work and work habits and quoted them in his writing notes. DM went out with his writing boots on dying a day after submitting his last column for the Boston Globe. EH left us too early after burning out. Both lived full and humanly complete lives of observing and learning and writing it all out. Each part of the story gleaned from focused observation and from attempts at learning lessons. The jumbled beginnings of a journey jotted down from viewing another lost generation. From Donald Murray, “Ass in the Chair is the only rule of Art.”

Works Referenced:
(Weber) (Fenton) (Phillips) (Murray)
Fenton, Charles A. The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway-the Early Years. NY: Viking Press, 1954.
Murray, Donald M. Welcolm to the Writer’s Craft. Writing Guide. Durham, NH: Donald M Murray, 2006.
Phillips, Larry W. Ernest Hemingway on Writing. NY: Scribner, 1984, 2004.
Weber, Ronald. Hemingway’s Art of Non-Fiction. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Daily Prompt: Back to School , A post to the SNHU school newspaper

In 2008 I returned to University and majored in English Language and Creative Writing. I joined the school newspaper (the old elephant in the room.) This is one of my posts published in the newspaper.

Pothier_Creative_Story-telling Dream Free write

Ken Pothier_11/26/2009

A Story-telling Dream

I had a storytelling dream. In it I was camping on mother earth with father sky above me. Alone, but for the spirit of the ancestors surrounding me North, South, East, West, Above and Below. Felt in the knowledge and magic of medicine animals. I wanted to write, but there wasn’t a way. I was consumed with the need to get my feelings and observations recorded, to tell a story.
I then proceeded to observe, read, feel all of the great spirit in nature around me. Dusk came over the dream and I could not record what was felt in the subtle and palpable lessons of the land. I spent last light organizing the campsite getting ready for the night.

Alone, but for want of a way to write,
But for want of a fire to light,
But for want of a means to share,
It could have been a good dream.

I awoke with longing and frustration in my being. In a life tinged with sorrow I could not shake the feeling of the dream.
If I could not write:
I could live with it, carry it, carry on, and not put the heavy load of feeling down.
I could make a blanket of my tears for they roll down and carry salt of the earth.
I could leave signs, in the bank of streams and water’s edge of lake and ocean, where waves of wind, water, and time could wear them away.
I could etch my life sketch in stone, but there is too much to say, and words alone would consume the day.
I could read signs of nature and learn to live in wilderness on my own.
I could watch the seasons pass never knowing when it’s my last.
Could I not write?
Feelings, emotion, experience, knowledge, and lessons learned, would stay lost in time.
Though experienced and felt, never seen, not thought out, and only mine.
Dark and lost in shadow, never letting in the light of memory and time perspective,
Never leaving a clue to how I found my way as pathfinder.

Out on the lake appeared a lone snowmobiler, having a day with some time and a fresh coat of snow to play on. He circled the lake in an outline of the shore. Curved in at coves around the circumference and out where the land reaches to meet the snow covered ice.
A sixty acre oval repeated counterclockwise over and over and over, until it began to look like the concentric rings in the wood of a tree.
Carefully the task was completed, parallel journeys in time, close but never the same, he marked his time on the lake while I fashioned a dreamed story.

One man found a good rhythm in space and time, and beat out a path for all to see, until waves of wind, warmth, water, and time slowly take it all away.
Could I not write…? The day would be held only in memories, of the one who felt it, of the one who observed, and gone forever as they fade away.

Could I be a storyteller…?
Last light of sun’s rays break the clouds, and spotlight one man’s circles of time in motion…
As a work of art, in a rhyme of time, space, light, and words.

Dreams and signs can show the way…
See them, feel them, and own them-live as a warrior, storyteller, and pathfinder.
Tell the tales…etched in time…Hanta Yo…Go Forward…

© Ken Pothier

### 593 words

Poem–A Search for Healing in So Much Sorrow: Writing 201:Poetry: Future

A Search for Healing in So Much Sorrow

The light both rises and falls on hopes horizon

So much sorrow and too little truth,

Need with so much greed

Sometimes I mourn for these sad days. These troubled times and the human race

My Big Dawg ‘Bruce Springsteen’ playing on the radio

Singing about ‘Devils and Dust.’

I write of broken hearted rust

In a search for healing I

Find revival in songwriters’ words we are

‘Born to Run’ from ‘Devils and Dust’

Find spark from song and the

Common ground of the common man

With a ‘Boss’ who lives truth from ‘E Street’

To Main Street

In stories of real people,  the

Heart of a country

So far removed from mindless spin of zombies

The right that is wrong

Sometimes you must mourn for the people of this world

All alone together

‘Devils and Dust’ filling our souls

Tough to breath and to know your roles

Dream our dreams and fulfill our goals

Come together, communicate and connect

A day at a time one step forward, two back

Dreams held and drifting we must

Resist, believe and persist in clouds and blue sky and in Shadows and light

Souls in danger with spiritual cost

Lives at risk with spirit lost

Strive to maintain faith and learn to love as we touch each day

The Shadow of our dreams, those we love and those whose love has touched us

Sadness of our own and those we wish to reach

We give our all each day alive but alone

To go down in dreams each night

Awake looking for the morning light

Cherished grace of charity and compassion

Quiet in our desperation

Energy spent with little residual

Sore wounded scorched spirit

Soul searching

Heavy load train of thought and emotion

Going too fast to just stay on track

We move up the next hill just to see hopes horizon

Hold on

How much sorrow can we bear?

Before doing determined best

Yielding we just put it down

Where the light both rises and falls

“God bless us and save us”

Grandfather said through Two World Wars

And through a grandson

“Great Spirit of all bless us and save us” from the greed and hypocrisy

So much sorrow

Help us to resist, believe and persist

Strive to maintain faith and search for healing

Learn to love as we live

Cherish grace of compassion and charity

Come together, Communicate and connect

Find the courage to believe in yourself and in others

On common ground

Where irreconcilable differences

Diminish, disperse and disappear

On hopes horizon

The place where the light both rises and falls

{Attribute: spark to years of listening to the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band and the rest to the genes inherited from the ancestors}