Get ready for the bad news. Your laptop, notebook, Crackberry, EPIC smartphone, iPad, and Facebook buddies may be the main causes of your troubles. (Damn, I knew I was allowing too many FB friends in!) The source for this data blast is The Daily Beast web blog -- July 9 (2012):
"Now . . . . the proof is starting to pile up. The first good, peer-reviewed
research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet
blasts of Web utopians have allowed. The current incarnation of the
Internet -- portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive -- may be
making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious,
prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even
outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts,
and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways."
Or maybe it is not.
We Are All Cyborgs Now?
A cyborg is a merger, a blending, an interdependent connection fashioned between the human and the machine. Like in the old D,C, Comic books and the newish Superhero, Comic-Con films. It may sound strange. The term cyborg implies relationship -- and there are burgeoning numbers of relationships between the human and the non-human. This may seem a little disturbing. Or like unto an Orwellian conceit. Or pure bullpunky. It may rock some peoples' fragile worlds. But cyborgian states of life are pretty common these days.
Now, don't judge me, but I became officially a cyborg during December 2009 as post-Christmas carold wafted around my hospital ward's floor-- with the help of a four hour surgery (which I snoozed through completely, missing all the fun) under the scalpels and bone-cutters and stapling machines and gooey superglue strips utilized by a razor-sharp team of licensed medical geeks in wintry Arizona. The goal I had was to emerge with a stainless silver, implacable, and insentient titanium elbow and shiny new fore bone planted into my left arm. During my two hospital stays through all of this, I must have heard over 100 times in my imagination the words: 'We can rebuild him -- stronger, faster, better than before' which older readers will remember from the cyborgian fantasy TV show, from decades ago, called the Six Million Dollar Man. So, yes, I have been rebuilt. My cyborgian merger of the human and the mechanism is a permanent feature of me. Stroner, faster, better than before?
To extend this reflection, I will go on record as saying I wouldn't want to set other features: my laptop, cell phone, Nook, TV remote, and other digitized toys aside either. We're a match unyielding, and that's the way it is and the way it's gonna be. You see, I got me a special relationship. Actually, a collection of them. Correspondingly, my brain (probably yours too) is being 're-wired' in certain ways, my gray-matter chemistry is being remixed like the ingredients of a Baskin Robbins milk shake, and this -- by implication -- will change things between us humans who are conditioned by the 'connection addiction' irrevocably.
The piece in The Daily Beast notes:
. . . the research is now making it clear that the Internet is not “just”
another delivery system. It is creating a whole new mental environment, a
digital state of nature where the human mind becomes a spinning
instrument panel, and few people will survive unscathed.
Get that? The mind as 'spinning instrument panel.' Tres cyboriffic. As the really hip psychological therapists all want to know, "How does this stuff make you feel?"
Getting Past My OCD and a Nagging Chapstick Addiction
Since I long to be an alpha adopter of as many hip, new terminologies as I possibly can, I would cautiously label myself among the new cadre of 'Ultra-Web Users.' But, please, don't call me Captain Crackberry. Another astute commentator has labeled this cyborgian, non-12th stepping condition as an iDisorder. That I like. So, I probably have an itty-bitty compulsive personality characteristic. I might have to have my smartphone lying potently nearby -- in case I get a text message or something -- for 24/7 of my time. Maybe I sense a frisson ping somewhere down deep when I am awarded a "Like" for something off the cuff on Facebook. These don't add up to mental illness. Do they? C'mon, you can tell me. We're just here, hanging in cyberspace, alone . . . together.
Well, the literature on this is not real encouraging. Think about these:
The brains of Internet addicts look like the brains of drug and alcohol users
Research in China hints that internet addiction may shrink the area of the
brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control,
emotions, and other information
The more the brain gets affected by internet dependency the more it shows
signs of atrophy
The overall increase of global technology usage may possibly be linked to
the rise in OCD and ADHD diagnoses
An indicator of internet dependency (accepted by some researchers) is
spending 35 hours or more a week online. By that definition, many are
"addicts" by Wednesday morning, even Tuesday during certain weeks
Have you tried to quit or cut down by choice on your cyber-tripping, but found that it just seems impossible? No, I never have either . . . Isn't the gift of denial just great?
My Prefrontal Cortex Is Altered Better Than Yours
Some observers liken the experience of cyber-community, like one adopts via Facebook, to living alone in a ginormous metropolis -- with few real human connections, hectic scheduling, multiple priorities, daily pressures. Some individuals thrive, really do okay in such contexts, and some persons crack into a ncystalline etwork of whacky pathologies.
Some cultural and digital-world observers say the internet, at best, should be encountered like life, with a healthy and balanced outlook and a penchant for thoughtfulness, good judgment, and critical reflection. That article from The Daily Beast says:
. . . all of us, since the relationship with the Internet began, have tended to
accept it as is, without much conscious thought about how we want it to
be or what we want to avoid. Those days of complacency should end. The
Internet is still ours to shape. Our minds are in the balance.
Meaningful critical reflection as a maturing human person (coupled with bouts of good judgment) is different from that pejorative and out-of-control 'new mental environment' (by dipping into the cyberzone) that was mentioned above.
Being a cyborg -- the human blended with processors, linked to chips, conjoined with digital hardware -- may ultimately be destiny for many (most?) of us. But a self-induced mental and emotional mangling, you know -- the whacky condition of iCraziness as a recent issue of Newsweek magazine calls it -- most certainly does not have to be.