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For The Times, They Are A-Changin'...

By Allan Eastman

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Is Time Ripe?

Girl day-dreaming in meadow

Perhaps it is time to break away from those electronic devices and find a way to slow down and reconnect to all those interior processes - to muse, to daydream, to imagine.

©iStockphoto.com/ALEAIMAGE

It is in the children of the digital age that we really see the changes reflected. In their early years, their time stressed parents used the television as a kind of home based babysitter. The young spend hours there every day, bombarded by fast changing, fast moving images. They learn to “surf” with the TV remote and this talent is transferred to their easy relationships with computers and cell phones and iPods. They are totally tech savvy but their unformed brains are being saturated by a quantity of sensations and information that they cannot hope to assimilate or process.

A new neurosis among the young is soon noted and over the last few decades, becomes the designer mental disorder of the era – Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Its symptoms are eerily similar to the patterns of digital age. ADD kids exhibit a kind of hyperactivity – an impulsiveness and a restlessness, a constant search for new stimuli, an inability to concentrate on any one thing. It seems to create a self absorption, a loss of inhibition and a kind of self centered unconcern or even hostility in the individual. The self must be constantly serviced – “no figuring out, no mind work, just give me what I want now.”

Certain researchers note that the brains of kids with ADD are different – some lobes related to self control are shrunken and they habitually produce less dopamine, an important neural transmitter for the exchange of information within the brain. At the moment, it is a chicken and egg scenario – which is the cause and which is the effect - but it certainly appears that something important is going on here. If our lifestyles and our modern modes of communication are actually causing damaging physiological changes in our brains, then we have definitely entered a new, and somewhat scary, era in our human story.

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There is a growing concern that learning patterns among many of the young have irretrievably lost the previous system of self motivated discovery and play, which develops imagination and promotes stable emotional relationships. In their place is the high speed, fragmented, externally directed, surfing mentality where most interactions with their environment are filtered through an electronic intermediary that by its very nature, never goes very deeply into anything. If our friendships consist of social networking and our modes of thought are the cut and paste of existing information, what comes next for the human race?

In the face of all the concerns that this new relationship with Time have brought and the attendant stress that goes hand in hand with our high speed, wired, overfull existences, many people have begun to campaign for a conscious reversal of this process. Certain individuals and Groups are now advocating “slow” Time – slow food, slow learning, slow living. It is an attempt to at least partially opt out of the velocity of our modern lives and seek a kind of quality of experience that many of us feel we have lost and that may be adversely affecting our children and our lives.

At a time in our history when old “natural” conceptions of Time have largely disappeared from modern societies, to be replaced by something which despite all its apparent benefits, appears to fill so many people with anxiety – the basic question can only be “What will be the outcome of all this?”

For the people who complain of an extreme busyness that causes them unhappiness, the answer should be to find a way to slow down. Perhaps it is time to disconnect from some of those electronic devices and go out and sit on a patch of green grass and watch the clouds float by for awhile. Perhaps it is time to at least partially reject the fragmented ever Present-ness of the information age and reconnect to all those interior processes which served the human race so well in our ascent – to muse, to reflect, to daydream, to imagine.

Maybe the real eureka moment will be to discover how we can get ourselves out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

Or maybe it is all just the way the world, and we humans who inhabit it, evolve. We may not like it very much but it could be taking us to a new, very different and one can hope, better future. Maybe by taking on all this fragmentation during our finite existences, we get closer to the real nature of Time, more like Julian Barbour conceives it, a Universe of all the possible Nows.

Maybe we just need to get better at handling it.

Comments
  Marc White!
Looks like it's probably a nice article, but once again it is far too long for a
newsletter, and I just don't have time to read it. If these articles were an
appropriately short length, I would read them more often.
Submitted 2010-08-14 18:36:47
  Allan Eastman
Thanks for illustrating one of my points...
Submitted 2010-08-15 05:51:18
  Johnny Spicer
@Allan Eastman HA! HA! LOL! @ your reply to above comment! :)
Hi Allen, every once and awhile - someone comes along and puts their finger
directly on the pulse of everything that i am feeling, and experiencing. You
tied-it up in a nice 'sweet bow' . . 'complexity' made Simple, & Powerful. This
is a Wild Ride, this 'Life' . . this 'Consciousness' . . this Play called 'Life
on Planet Earth'! 'Just gave you a Nice Twit-blast and linked to this article!
Keep it Up Bro, proud to be on the same 'Orb with you! :)
BestEz, johnny spicer Defiant Sun Media, Pacific Beach, California
http://twitter.com/defiantsun
Submitted 2010-08-27 16:18:35
  quantumpush
@Marc White! We definitely need to stop reading all of these newsletters and get
outside. Just go check some sunset times so you can go outside and enjoy one of
the most beautiful moments in nature!
Submitted 2012-05-22 15:33:49
  quantumpush
@Marc White! you know?
Submitted 2012-05-22 15:35:57
  Allan Eastman
@quantumpush too true quantum - it was hard for me to say it - thanks AE
Submitted 2012-05-22 15:39:14
  Joseph De Luca
I came to the same place some years ago! I'm now 70. Perhaps Paul Simon said it
better than we in his poem/lyric "Slow down you move too fast". Now my children
one 30 and one 40 are beginning to learn it too, the younger better than the
older. But hey, we all learn in our own time at our own pace. As one of my
wife's people said (she is part aboriginal american and has been my love for
over 47 years): "life is as the flash of the firefly in the night, the breath of
the buffalo in winter..."
Submitted 2010-08-16 12:03:10
  Allan Eastman
Hi Joseph - Thank you for this lovely comment and the profound and true
aphorism...can you perhaps comment on what your Wife's people's conception of
Time is - is there some sort of definition that may be particular?
Best, Allan
Submitted 2010-08-17 10:57:07
  Johnny Spicer
@Joseph De Luca Your a Lucky-Guy - to be married to such Wizened Woman!:)
http://twitter.com/defiantsun
Submitted 2010-08-27 16:29:55
  donna
veni, vidi, vici - not.......
but I am sure we will;
that is when we will hit rock bottom and money will dissipate....
then we will shine as whole....
Submitted 2010-08-31 12:14:09
  Chris Humphreys
Wonderful stuff. Left em a little concerned as rush my son off to the next
event - soccer. Oh well, at least he's running about away from screens. But the
beautifully written artilce makes me want to take off for that island and raise
goats and apples.
Submitted 2010-10-02 16:04:45

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