Saturday, February 02, 2013
Technology and the Christian - Part 2
(Part 1 here)
Previously we have looked at the fact that multitasking and constantly changing the focus of our brain tends to overload our executive network and this results in a rewired brain that is less capable of focusing. It also results in a general sense of greater anxiety because we are unable to manage all of the input properly.
Tim Challies writes:
“Harvard Medical School, is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. After years of studying and treating ADHD, Hallowell began to note a similar disorder.... He termed this condition attention deficit trait. ADT is a product of the digital world, a result of our obsession with information—our desire to surround ourselves with it, with more of it, all the time. In an interview with CNET News, Hallowell observed, 'It’s a condition induced by modern life, in which you’ve become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless, and, over the long term, underachieving.' People will know they’ve succumbed to it 'when they start answering questions in ways that are more superficial, more hurried, than they usually would; when their reservoir of new ideas starts to run dry; when they find themselves working ever-longer hours and sleeping less, exercising less, spending free time with friends less, and in general putting in more hours but getting less production overall.'” In other words, they will know they’ve got it when they find that they no longer have time or ability to give to building relationships or to fulfilling their God-given mandate that they work, create, innovate. Arising as a direct result of overloading the brain’s internal circuitry with too much input, ADT carries significant consequences. Hallowell states, 'Aside from underachievement, you don’t ever get the fulfillment of seeing yourself coming up with the ideas you ought to come up with.'” (The Next Story, pages 138-139)
My motivation for bringing in these technical descriptions is to make us aware of the dangers that exist by too much multitasking enhanced by our personal technologies. God wants us to be able to get the big picture. He wants us to be able to think deeply about truth and focus on his word and its implications in our lives. Nicholas Carr writes, “The more you multitask, the less deliberate you become and the less able to think and reason out a problem.” (The Shallows, page 140)
Carr goes on, “The influx of competing messages that we receive whenever we go online not only overloads our working memory; it makes it much harder for our frontal lobes to concentrate our attention on any one thing. The process of memory consolidation can't even get started. The more we use the web, the more we train our brain to be distracted.” (Shallows, page 194).
If we are continuously distracted, we cannot see the big picture and think deeply and therefore we will be less than God wants us to be in our growth in Christ-likeness. In addition, it is much more difficult to store information into our long term memory and therefore the portions of the Word of God which should be in our brains don't stick.
Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.
Challies, Tim. The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.