What is this Madness??

Just a few days ago I stumbled upon an interesting article from the NY Times, titled “Hurricane Sandy Reveals a Life Unplugged.” I thought to myself, wow this would be perfect for a blog post! I remember discussing, either the first or second week of class, what it would be like if all of the sudden all of our technology just shut down. An important question that came up was: would society be able to function without the technology that is so embedded in our daily lives?

This article offered a perfect glimpse of what life without technology would really be like. As we all know, the destruction of the hurricane completely wiped out a lot of the East Coast, taking all the power and energy with it. This meant that TVs, cell phones, the Internet, video games, etc. were all rendered useless. Thus, people were given a rare glimpse of what life would be like in a world where technology isn’t the vein of our existence. In the article, one of the paragraphs describes a family where the three children are infatuated with the mother’s iPad. The mom depicts the blackout experience as a form of rehab. She says, “It’s like coming off drugs. There’s a 48-hour withdrawal until they are not asking about the TV every other minute.” Some people just simply did not know what to do with themselves, they struggled to find meaningful things to do with all their free time. Conversely, some people found great uses for their time by catching up with family, exploring new hobbies/talents, etc.  

While many families relished at the time they had to spend with each other technology-free, they also found it difficult at times. The author writes, “among the parents who spoke with pride about newfound family time when their children were forced offline, there were honest admissions about the joy-kill of too much bonding.” This raised any interesting point for me. Do you think that people are so used to immersing themselves in technology that when it comes down to one-on-one personal time with actual people we get frustrated/annoyed/bored more easily?

Overall, I am fascinated by the idea of how our society would function without technology. In particular, how relationships would change, for the better or for the worst, without it always readily accessible. Do you guys think families should devote one or two days of the week where no technology is allowed? Would this help children (and adults alike) to learn that it is still possible to exist without the Internet or without a cell phone if need be. What are your thoughts on the article? 

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In with the Bad, Out with the Good

Going off our reading due Wednesday, I wanted to pay special attention to memory and what it entails. Memory is a fascinating concept. Some people are able to store loads of information in their heads while others struggle even remembering what they had for breakfast the day before. In particular, I want to focus on internal knowledge and how people use it as a “memory bank” essentially. Some memories are kept throughout a lifetime, and some only last half a day until they are thrown out and never to be remembered. Basically, as Donald Norman writes in chapter three, “knowledge in the mind is ephemeral: here now, gone later” (80). But what exactly are the kinds of memories that people retain? Is it possible to know which ones we will keep longer than others?

A NY Times article titled “Praise is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall” might just have an answer to those questions. It suggests that, based upon research, people tend to remember more negative events and that they hold much more weight in our brain’s capacity. This is based upon both physiological and psychological reasons. Positive and negative information are handled in separate hemispheres of the brains; negative information is processed more systematically, which we tend to reflect more upon. There are also signs of this occurring in animals as well.

Bad events, therefore, take more time to wear off than good ones. In interviewing adults up to fifty years old about their childhoods, researchers found that bad memories were more prevalent, even with people who said they had a happy upbringing. The article continues for several more paragraphs and is a very interesting read, but the main point that I want to bring up is that more often than not, people tend to remember bad events moreso than good ones. 

In relating this to technology, I often ponder if this is why violent video games can have an effect on making kids more violent as they get older. If bad events are more likely to be processed in the brain and committed to memory, wouldn’t it make sense that violent, gory, video games could impression the brain to be more malicious? What are your guys’ thoughts on all of this? Do you believe that bad events tend to be remembered more easily than good ones? And could these bad memories, like violent video games, cause the brain to react in such a way that makes the person more violent and aggressive?