Neuropsychologist Lutz Jäncke from the University of Zurich has dedicated a book on the negative consequences of digitization. He’s not the first in it, and so there’s nothing entirely new in it. Social media can potentially flood us, with its constant fire of news, posts and status reports, that apps work with psychological tricks and that it’s sometimes hard to tell the real from the fake online – this has been written a lot and more specifically.
What is special about Jäncke’s presentation is the foundation of neuroscience. Brain graphics, for example, explain the areas involved in reward and attention and how impulse control works. According to the researcher, we (our gray cells to be exact) do not stick to the screen all the time and are browsing through an endless flood of information. As a result of the Stone Age, our brain is regularly succumbing to new technological possibilities.
But the problem with this evolutionary psychological argument is: No one really knows what Mother Nature has enabled us to do or not. Cultural evolution has separated from biological. Humans certainly don’t have to move at speeds greater than 30 kilometers per hour or to make friends that span the globe. so what?
Is it better to stand still, technologically speaking?
If the author asserts that digital media exploits one of our greatest weaknesses, the tendency toward convenience, then one wonders: what other purpose should technology have, if not to make our lives easier? What exactly is wrong with that – and should we go back to the old days or technologically straight away because that’s more mind-blowing?
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