Wednesday 16 September 2015

Digital minds? Reflections on mass media and the computer world from Jeremy Naydler

The advent of the wearable computer presents us all with the challenge as to how far and how warmly we are prepared to extend our embrace of digital technology, as we move towards the projected merger of human and machine...

There is yet another, more formidable challenge, however, which runs alongside this moral question. And this is the challenge of addressing the hunger that humanity feels so strongly for greater connection with the realm of spirit, and which many mistakenly seek to satisfy through greater connection with technology.

For the strength of the enticement of the virtual world may best be understood as being due to its offering an alluring counterfeit to the genuine spiritual experience that alone can satisfy this spiritual hunger.

Here we have to face a different kind of choice, which concerns our own cognitive development. Are we prepared to take in hand the difficult task of inner development, as a conscious decision, followed through in daily practice? It seems to me that only when we do this can we stand a chance of coming into the right human relationship with our technologies. Whatever is happening at a collective level, we still have the freedom as individuals to make choices and embark on resolves...

Given its addictive nature, the technology actually presents an opportunity for us, by resisting it, to lift the veil on what it is concealing from us, and to glimpse that greater, more authentic experience from which it continually diverts us.

From The advent of the wearable computer by Jeremy Naydler (2012)

This often insightful essay makes the important point that the digital world we inhabit - especially via the internet based mass media, does not just inundate us with images and data (mostly malign) but also affects the way that we think - making us less human and more machine-like.

Yet the hunger which leads us into mass media/ computer addiction is in fact a spiritual one - and the addiction is sustained because the internet experience is 'an alluring counterfeit' of real spiritual experience. In the short term, being connected provides us with partial gratification - while disconnecting rapid induces cravings, boredom, a need for stimulation and quasi-engagement.

As so often, things have to get worse before they can get better - and there are no guarantees -
withdrawal always causes suffering.

The first step is to want something more; the second step is to recognize that this 'more' really-exists - only then we can embark on mass media and computer detoxification, and again start to think and feel like humans should.

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