The Tamsen Chronicles

The Re-Wiring Of Our Minds

Tamsen’s Territory – by Oscar Tamsen

As we know only too well, big changes are currently on our horizon, promising us a future of difference but this will only be stable if we all understand the changes and are prepared to meet them headlong.

Against the present background of global conflict and wars, people throughout the world have become addicted to the effects of all forms of modern power- generated communication.

Little do we know that our smartphones, the Internet and now, Artificial Intelligence, are fast capturing virtually every aspect of our daily lives and are too often overwhelming our mental and physical capacities to hold essential information.

This view is heavily supported by a world-leading New York University professor of psychology, Dr. Jonathan Haidt. He rightly believes that all of us — from childhood to adult age — are fast becoming turned into living robots whose brains are literally being fried and re-wired by the latest modes of social connection.

As a result, we are becoming more fragile, more angry, more depressed, more provocative and more violent with fewer hours to think rationally about the things that really matter.

Dr Haidt’s extensive research into, for instance, our present tools of social media shows that the modern way we communicate with each other is creating the biggest ever mental health crisis, leading to fragile family relationships and crime, including previously unknown schoolboy violence.

With regard to our young people, his studies in Britain, the United States and Australia have also shown that social media outlets such as TikTok are responsible for growing low-level intellectual development, particularly among school and university students — and the trend is reported to be increasing at an alarming rate.

In this regard, we in Australia are already experiencing an epidemic of anxiety and depression with over 2,000,000 Australians diagnosed last year.

Instagram, on the other hand, is reported to be overtaking hard-copy printed newspapers as a news source capable of changing people’s rational views of the world with algorithms promoting provocative political and other personal views.

Dr Haidt and other renowned psychologists believe that social media in general is fast reducing people’s ability to focus on vital subjects of importance while “filling people’s brains with little bits of stuff, ” almost always selected by a very non-human algorithm.

When as a journalist I look around the world today, it is obvious that most societies are becoming more socially fragmented, anxious, stressed, overweight, over medicated and debt-ridden.

In spite of most people now carrying a smartphone wherever they go each day, more of us report that we are feeling isolated, with loneliness becoming another growing problem. Once again, our over-reliance on information technology is cutting us off from our neighbours and our community.

As I wrote in last week’s Clarence Valley Independent, the time has come for all of us to heed the future and dispense with our rose-coloured glasses and blinkers, and take what action is obviously necessary for each of us to minimise the effects of our fast-changing world.

One of the answers, of course, is for us to spend less time with our electronic communications’ ‘toys’; to encourage those around us to not believe all the digital advice they receive from spurious quarters and for our children to spend more time playing healthy games outside in the sun.

Next time: Nature’s Attacks on Our World.