01 October 2009


"Ever find yourself sitting down at the computer just for a second to find out what other movie you saw that actress in, only to look up and realize the search has led to an hour of Googling?"

"...our brains are designed to more easily be stimulated than satisfied."

The articles below are fascinating. They attempt to show the effects of technology - basically the internet - on our ability to read books and generally sustain attention; on our brains, especially pleasure centers; and on quality of life from a Buddhist perspective.

I got completely 'unwired' on a three month retreat this year, and life was just unbelievably long during that time. Each day seemed endlessly spacious - even though we had a full program. But what we were doing was simple, and slow. We meditated, did rituals, cooked food, looked at the sky, talked about the Dhamma, handwashed our clothes, and all nestled in the beautiful rocky mountains near PeƱarroya.

It didn't seem like we were on a retreat. It seemed like we had moved in together to a situation where we lived communally and did a lot of practice. We were 22 women doing almost everything together.

I returned to San Francisco in mid-August, and during that time I've been slowly building up and reinforcing my addiction to stimulation. The last few days I've been watching several episodes of 30Rock on my laptop at night before I go to bed. I can feel my experience of life becoming more and more superficial, a bit number, a bit more of a kind of electric buzz with no content always humming on the surface. As the first quote above notes, I look up actors on imdb. I interact with people a lot through email. It is a completely different life, often unpleasantly composed only of streams of bits and bytes, but somehow very hard to resist...

Is Google Making Us Stupid?
[the atlantic]

How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous.

Awareness in our Technological World
...a look at the double-edged sword of our hyper-connected world.

[NY Times]

[Psychology Today]

See also my other post:

Addiction to Computers and Other Screens
(image by andy goldsworthy)

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