Saturday, 5 October 2013

Digital Addiction

120739406_32681f5ff6_bIn a conversation elsewhere online, I wrote a response to a discussion about digital ‘addiction’ and whether or not being distracted (and distractible) by things like Facebook and texting was a symptom of addiction… it progressed a little to the stress caused to brains by screen flicker, which is where this begins:

I've read that research, too. I know that screen flicker is stimulating to brains, and there are, certainly a whole lot of people who don't understand the connection between their difficulty sleeping (or their chronic sleep deficit) and their daytime activity/stress levels.

But I, again, see this from a much broader perspective.

This is, to me, the fallout from a (sometimes intentionally) disconnected society. Families are split up into age groups at ever-earlier ages, now there is a movement afoot to 'make sure' all children are safely and 'correctly' cared for by moving them all into age-segregated daycares, a shift further back into infancy from the division of families created by mandatory, age-segregated public school. Some of this can be traced to child-labour laws, forcing kids out of the factories where they worked alongside their siblings and parents, some of it is intentionally-destabilizing people and making them easier to control (see Prussian army, c. 1700s) but a lot of it is ease of management for the staff --but the net effect is the same: families are fragmented at earlier and earlier ages. Does anyone know what the results of that are, for babies who are adapted to need a small handful of the same, steady people for the first 12-15 years of life to learn how to live in our complex cultures to form a stable sense of security within?

That lack of stable security is (sometimes intentionally) disrupted by the fragmentation of families, and results in insecure people: people who don't trust their instincts or their own needs, who often go for years and years without attempting to meet their needs, much less expecting to succeed at meeting them, self-loathing worriers who live in fear of being 'found out', who have no idea at all how to de-stress their own bodies or lives, who live in chronic stress, chronically overwhelmed, chronically insecure... who reach for things that make that insecurity feel further away for a while...

And then we (culturally, technologically) offer them what people have NEVER been any good at handling: abundance. An over-2959003013_b62599d8e4_babundance of choice (meaning, the stress of deciding from a 20-item menu adds to the stress of having 14 different size packages of differently-priced, different thickness and quality of toilet paper to choose from, along with 24/7 shopping online and in real life, 24/7 tv on 4000 channels, the non-stop internet and 24/7 live events and activities to do even in many very small towns...) means that, in very practical terms, there are no longer any natural limits. The sun NEVER goes down on what there is to choose from...

In fact, it's common now to run into people my age who simply do not understand 'we ran out' --at stores, restaurants, farms or system bandwidth. So accustomed we are to what looks to us like a 'never-ending supply' (sometimes of debt), it's ordinary for people to have a fit when the size they want is not available because there aren't any, they're so convinced there really are more somewhere but the annoying employee is too lazy to go get them...

The result looks like entitlement, but what it really is, I think, is just expecting there to be lots and lots of everything all the time because that's how life works, naturally, right?

But to the point of the wired world: there are no natural limits. It really simply never ends. The bottle never runs out, the well never runs dry, the opportunity to stay 'connected' at all times, for cheaper and cheaper access costs ... well, that's just the same as how people in Vietnam reacted when heroin was cheap and easier to get than food --who would turn down a hit that makes everything wonderful when without it life is pure stress 100% of the time?

If life wasn't pure stress, 100% of the time, do you think there would be as many people who has as much difficulty handling the distractions?

I don't.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Miley vs. Sinead: Immature against Unwise

I might as well jump into this, since it’s all being touted as ‘good example for kids/girls’ or ‘important lesson to understand.’

I disagree with both suggestions.

I don’t think there is any need for any further examples of an adult woman slut-shaming another in public. I don’t think once she’s done, she should be protected from any equally-insulting return volley on any topic including mental illness, certainly not from someone half their age.

I don’t think the letter is ‘good’ for anyone –not Miley, not onlookers and not Sinead.

Sinead’s position suggests that Miley is an idiotic pawn. While that might be true, with examples like Madonna and Christina Aguilera to draw upon I’d say there is at least an even chance that Miley’s a very savvy entertainer, with a much better idea what sells than Sinead seems to have.

Sinead’s position is condescending. That she chose to be condescending in a public forum has earned Miley’s public response. Should Miley have been the mature, wise one and brushed it off? If that’s the case, what explains Sinead’s reaction to Miley’s response? If that isn’t unwise and immature, I don’t have any words for it at all. Now, they’re both in the same place: unwise and immature.

Are these ‘important lessons’ to anyone? File this under Horrible Warnings.

It can be all about ‘art’ for Sinead, if Sinead wants her career in selling music to be ‘art’ instead of commerce: that is her right and her choice. She is under no obligation to earn money from her creative expression –the vast majority of people don’t. However, that does not have to be anyone else’s choice –not male or female, not at 21 or 71.

Sophia Loren has made it very clear that she is a sex symbol and is delighted and proud to not only have been that, but to remain that today. I happen to agree with her: adult women are allowed to own their sexuality, and they’re allowed (I believe) to express it any way they want to –for money or not, as they choose. Just like men can –Hello, Sean Connery! At any age.


Note to Sinead: grow up and learn to communicate with more respect.

Note to Miley: own your choices and brush off the criticism.

Note to kids and girls: It is your body. Your self-esteem is not related to what anyone else thinks about your body, and your whole self-esteem is only partly made up from what you think about your body. Make your own choices and don’t be surprised when some of them come with regrets, some immediately, some later. You have to learn what you need to learn.

Oh, and a tip for everyone: when you’ve learned what you needed to learn, in your own time and in your own way, try to remember to pass on your respect for everyone who allowed you to do that by allowing everyone else to learn in their own time and their own way, too.

Sure, give information and advice when asked, but don’t presume it’s any more welcome to your listener than it was to you at that point in your life.

If you have to pass on Sage Advice From Wiser Heads, at least be wise enough to be respectful.