Feed on
Posts

Tag Archive 'jerry-mander'

TV and the Internet: Dullness and Restless

Attention is one of the foundations of awareness. Without it, we have no protection against information which is poured into us. Without attention we cannot transform information into wisdom. Then without choice we ingest whatever is put in front of us.

Without attention we risk becoming servomechanisms of technology, clicking compulsively with no clear direction. An open mind without goals is very different from the lack of direction of a mind frenzied with the longing to be filled. Lacking attention we have no control over our intentions nor critical perspective for interpreting information.

Attention is an ingredient of mindfulness – the awareness of our inner state which includes our body, feelings, and sensations. Meditation techniques begin with focused attention and concentration.

With attention, awareness, mindfulness, “presence” and a quiet mind, we are nourished by our interiority instead of force fed by external stimuli. As attention is connected to our identity, weak attention produces a weak identity.

B. Alan Wallace, on page 6 of The Attention Revolution (Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2006) writes that “One progresses through each stage by rooting out progressively more subtle forms of the two obstacles: mental agitation and dullness.”

The strenghtening of the inner attention and concentration is a requisite for the progress toward an expanded awareness, which, in turn, “being lucid harmony (sattva) in action, dissolves dullness and quietens the restlessness of the mind and gently, but steadily changes its very substance. This change need not be spectacular; it may be hardly noticeable; yet it is a deep and fundamental shift from darkness to light, from inadvertence to awareness” (Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That, Acorn Press, Durham, 1982, p. 271).

TV definitely tends toward dulling the mind, as documented by Jerry Mander and many others. TV keeps the viewer glued to the screen both by giving a linear narrative and by quick edits and visual stimulation that leverage our ancient instinct. We can’t help but attend to any changes in our visual space, which in ancient times gave better chances of survival against predators. This mechanism of mental stimulation is even more present on the Internet than on TV because of its multitasking possibilities.

Also, the Internet, being composed mostly of small pieces of information competing for our attention, has a less linear narrative. Furthermore, the Internet, smartphones, and videogames don’t have a temporal structure; thus, there is no clear “beginning” or “end,” as in traditional media such as TV, where programs start and stop on a schedule. Thus, there’s no inherent end to online interaction. Online, we expect answers immediately, and with that expectation reinforced, our endlessly curious mind is pulled further into the current.

The positive side of dullness is relaxation and the positive side of mental agitation is a curious, active mind. A relaxed though active mind is a marker of a receptive, creative, and balanced mind. TV and the Internet seduce us by simulating those states.

For some time, I thought that TV promoted mostly dullness while the Internet causes mental restlessness, but those states are complementary and support each other. The two media are coming closer to each other. TV is presenting more “multitasking” capabilities by running text on the screen and by using quick cuts and edits, while the Internet is becoming more passive due to the presence of videos and an endless “real-time” stream of information (news sites, blog entries, Twitter, Facebook, Google+) that we browse mostly in a passive way. A great majority of people are lurkers and don’t contribute to the user-generated content, and even the active ones spend more time in a passive state rather than commenting or writing their own entries.

Also, TV programs have now less temporal structure. Shows and news morph into each other in a continuous stream, where there’s no more “end.” Jerry Mander, considering an increase in hyperactivity among children due to TV, writes in In the Absence of the Sacred (Sierra Club, San Francisco, 1991) that “television viewing, if it can be compared to a drug experience, seems to have many of the characteristics of Valium and other tranquilizers. But that is only half of the story. Actually, if television is a drug, it is not really Valium; it is speed” (p. 66).

Read Full Post »

Brain waves facing a screen, and meditation

<h1><a mce_thref=[en]

Meditation and staring at a screen share the same brain waves, but are actually different internal states. It seems that looking at a screen hooks people seducing them with a fake feeling of relaxation through the presence of alpha waves and even lower brain frequencies.

This relaxation, though, not being integrated with an attentive and aware observation of the contents of the mind (as happens in meditation) gives rise instead to an internal restlessness and stress, often unrecognized until it becomes full-blown.
[/en][it]

La meditazione e l’atto di fissare uno schermo attivano le stesse onde cerebrali, ma di fatto corrispondono a stati interiori diversi. Sembra che osservare uno schermo porti le persone in uno stato di finto rilassamento, tramite l’attivazione di onde alfa e di quelle a frequenza ancora più bassa.

Tale rilassamento, tuttavia, non essendo integrato da un’osservazione attenta e consapevole dei contenuti mentali (come avviene in meditazione), provoca stress e agitazione interiori, che spesso non vengono riconosciuti fino a quando non esplodono.

[/it]

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Neural reflexes and reflections on meditation

<h1><a mce_thref=[en]

At the bottom layer, both the television and the computer screens are about moving images. Looking at anything new moving in front of our eyes brings an ancient impulse to react through the instinctual fight-or-flight mechanism and our “orienting response.”

[/en][it]

Di base, sia la televisione che il computer sono immagini in movimento su uno schermo. Guardare qualcosa di nuovo che si muove innanzi ai nostri occhi fa riaffiorare l’antico impulso a reagire attraverso il meccanismo “lotta-o-scappa” e la nostra “risposta di orientamento”.

[/it]

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Computer addiction as survival for the ego

<h1><a xhref=[en]

Our nervous system has the mechanism of a reward system that, when activated, can trigger the processes of compulsions and addictions. In the Internet, people can get addicted to online gambling, to online gaming, to porn, to cybersex, to online auctions, to chat, even to news and to surfing. Neuroscientists have also documented how the learning and the pleasure centers of the brain are the same.

My hypothesis is that addictions that have to do with the mind activity, such as computer addiction, are there in order to keep the mind busy and therefore surviving. A silent mind would mean no-mind; silence and stillness are the worse enemy for the ego, that breeds thoughts continuously and feeds on them.

[/en][it]

Il nostro sistema nervoso possiede un meccanismo di gratificazione che, una volta attivato, può provocare processi compulsivi e di dipendenza. Su Internet, le persone possono diventare dipendenti dal gioco d’azzardo o i videogame online, la pornografia, il cybersex, le aste online, le chat, persino le news e il navigare in sé. I neuroscienziati hanno documentato anche come i centri cerebrali dell’apprendimento e del piacere siano gli stessi.

La mia ipotesi che è le dipendenze connesse all’attività mentale, come la dipendenza da computer, seguono un meccanismo simile per tenere la mente occupata, e quindi farla sopravvivere. Una mente silenziosa significherebbe una non-mente; il silenzio e l’immobilità sono i peggiori nemici dell’ego, che genera e si nutre continuamente di pensieri.

[/it] (more…)

Read Full Post »

Is Internet empowering us?

quinto_potere.jpg[en]

Since the beginning, Internet has been regarded as an instrument of democracy and Internet activism grew over the years. The Net is considered a decentralization tool that gives the power back to small groups and individuals.

But are we really empowered through technology? The 60’s students’ movement was very influential in society and well organized, maybe not even in spite of the lack of technologies but because of that lack. People had to rely on personal connections.

[/en][it]

Sin dall’inizio, Internet è stata considerata uno strumento di democrazia, e l’attivismo legato a Internet è cresciuto nel corso degli anni. La Rete viene vista come un mezzo di decentralizzazione, che restituisce il potere agli individui e ai piccoli gruppi.

Ma Internet aumenta davvero il nostro potere? Il movimento studentesco degli anni ’60 era ben organizzato e molto influente nella società, e forse questo non avveniva nonostante l’arretratezza tecnologica, ma grazie a essa. La gente doveva fare affidamento sui contatti personali.

[/it]

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Multitasking to nothing

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=73">soft-watch-at-the-moment.jpg</a></h1>[en]

Even though multitasking has been demonstrated to be counterproductive, in real life and at the computer we tend to do a growing number of activities simultaneously.

What people are most scared of is to actually have free time, to experience an emptiness that would make us aware of the meaninglessness of our lives.  Any slowing down of our mind activity will give more awareness of ourselves in a deeper way than the activities we are identified with, and this is exactly what our ego tends to avoid.

[/en][it]

Anche se è stato dimostrato come il multitasking sia controproducente, nella vita reale e al computer tendiamo ad occuparci di un numero crescente di attività simultaneamente.

In realtà quello che si teme maggiormente è fare esperienza di un vuoto che ci renderebbe consapevoli della mancanza di senso profondo nelle nostre attività. Qualsiasi rallentamento dell’attività mentale ci renderebbe consapevoli di noi stessi più profondamente di tutte le attività con cui siamo identificati, e questo è esattamente ciò che il nostro ego tende ad evitare.

[/it] (more…)

Read Full Post »

Virtual worlds, mirror worlds, Second Life: backing up the messed planet

The path of enigmas[en]

In the 21th century ideologies collapsed, religions are showing their fundamentalist and darker side and war is still the response to political problems. At the same time the material world itself is experiencing ecological collapse.

Virtual worlds such as Second Life and mirror worlds as Google Earth are the new frontiers of the Net. It seems as though we are making a backup of a devastated world on the Net, reshaping it according to our dreams and inhabiting it as if we could alienate ourselves from the material world.

[/en][it]

Nel ventunesimo secolo, assistiamo al crollo delle ideologie, le religioni stanno mostrando il loro lato fondamentalista e più oscuro, mentre la guerra è ancora la risposta a problemi politici. Al medesimo tempo, il pianeta sta vivendo il collasso ecologico.

I mondi virtuali come Second Life e i mondi specchio come Google Earth sono le nuove frontiere della Rete. Sembra che stiamo facendo la copia in Rete di un mondo devastato, modificandolo secondo i nostri desideri e abitandolo come se potessimo alienarci dal mondo materiale.
[/it]

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Downloading our life on Internet

Sinapsi frattali[en]

The technological society permeates more and more every part of our life and we are downloading more and more parts of our real life onto the Net. Personal communications, finance, work, news, work, dating, shopping are just few of the activities that have been moved massively to the Net. Those are separate areas of our life where we usually apply different modalities of our mind.

Our attitude is different when we are at work, when we are shopping, when we talk to a friend or when we are communicating with somebody we are attracted to in a sensuous and intimate way. In addition, we usually have different settings for the different range of life activities. As we activate different parts of our mind, our body is involved as well. On the other hand, when we are stuck in front of a screen, our setting is always the same and the dynamic and tactile experience is missing.

[/en][it]

La società tecnologica permea sempre più ogni parte della nostra vita, e noi stiamo scaricando come fosse un download sempre più parti della nostra vita reale in Rete. La comunicazione tra le persone, gli affari, le notizie, il lavoro, gli amici, la ricerca di un partner, lo shopping sono solo alcune delle attività che sono state massicciamente trasferite in Rete. Si tratta di aeree distinte della nostra vita che solitamente richiedono l’attivazione della nostra mente in modalità diverse.

Il nostro atteggiamento cambia a seconda che siamo al lavoro, facciamo shopping, parliamo con un amico o comunichiamo con qualcuno che ci attrae sentimentalmente o sessualmente. Di solito, abbiamo diversi ambienti e situazioni esterne per i diversi tipi di attività. E non solo attiviamo aree diverse della mente, ma anche il corpo ne viene coinvolto. Invece, quando siamo fermi di fronte a uno schermo, il nostro ambiente esteriore è sempre lo stesso e mancano le dimensioni dinamica e tattile. [/it] (more…)

Read Full Post »

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0.