Monday, November 13, 2017

Are Google & Facebook Destroying Our Minds?

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Do no evil?
Google motto

Steven Zuckerberg, Sergei Brynn and Larry Page and their ilk are reportedly well-meaning people. And I imagine their employees try to live up to some version of Google’s motto.

But good intentions not enough, as outlined in a recent, splendid Guardian piece by Paul Lewis.

Google, Facebook & social media, Lewis suggests, are weakening our ability to think deeply, reflect and learn. They are master manipulators, Lewis continues, who are weakening us, hurting our children and degrading democracy.

Don't want to be misunderstood. We're not helpless. And in measured doses, our screens can be enormously helpful. Our technology can the "bicycle for the mind" that Steve Jobs imaged.

The dose makes the poison, is a core principle of Toxicology. Some substances that are toxic at high doses, are actually beneficial and even essential at low doses.

Pure acetic acid causes severe burns, yet small quantities, say, in a fine vinegar, enhance our enjoyment of food. Pure oxygen will scorch your lungs. Alcohol poisoning is a chronic problem, yet a glass of red wine each day enhances health.

Our daughters, Katie & Eleanor, both in university, agree with Paul Lewis. "Dad, we may be the last generation to grow up relatively free of screens."

They're protective of their teenager brother, Matthew, who is surrounded by screens and thus vulnerable to the manipulators.

Accordingly, our family applies the following guidelines:

1) No phones or Pads after 8:00 p.m.

2) One hour reading for every hour at a screen

As a general principle, I turn my cell phone on for an hour in the morning, an hour at lunch, and an hour late in the afternoon. It's off the rest of the time (exception: Safety).

Do such measures work? Partially...but that makes all the difference.

Google & Facebook may be destroying our minds. Write it on the bathroom mirror, on your whiteboard, in your journal so you see it every day.

Tell everybody you know, and above all, take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Let's use the technology, not the other way round.

Stay safe, stay awake


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