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  Thursday April 24th, 2014    

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Losing our minds (04/05/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns
With my track record of rejecting newfangled home and office conveniences, it’s amazing how far I’ve come! When Burns Builders built our home, early in our marriage, Pat ignored my frugal protests against luxury items, stating that I could make-do like our mothers had done. Even with the first dishwasher, my die-hard practice of doing dishes the old fashioned way endured for years.

The microwave was a surprise from Pat and the kids, against my initial protests. It didn’t take me long, with our three teens in the house, to dub that hot box a necessity! My thoughtful husband slyly removed the clotheslines from the back yard as my back problems got worse. How I miss that!

In fact, since Pat has been doing more of the household chores, new gadgets continue to make their appearances. His last purchase was a food processor. To think, for years I’d been using the monstrosity, metal, meat grinder that clamps onto the table! At times, I feel like I’m losing my mind! I dig in the cupboards for cookware that I’ve used from day one, only to recall that it had been replaced with shiny, unfamiliar things.

Then there’s the office equipment! My insistence that I was doing just fine with handwritten checks and ledgers fell on deaf ears. One day a computer, with its imposing screen, printer, and foreboding keyboard sat on my desk at the office. I thought I’d go bonkers learning to use the Peachtree business program! Senior years can turn invigorating challenges to sluggish exertion.

Why is it that those computer geeks don’t get it? Let’s start with the basics! Like how do you turn this thing on? It’s been a love/hate relationship between the computer and me but, I contend, I don’t know how I did all that tedious bookwork without the contraption. I can live with it.

Or can I? As a person who regularly communicates through computer use, how would you react if someone reputable said this to you? “Internet use alters brain function.” “We’re training our brains to take in information in the way the Internet supplies it – that is with an emphasis on speed and with continued distractions.”

Those statements come from an interview by Arnie Cooper in the March SUN magazine, entitled “On How The Internet Is Rewiring Our Brains.” Nicholas Carr is the

author of “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” His insight is extremely thought provoking. He tells of the old ideal that “…through wide reading and study, you could have a depth of knowledge and could make unique intellectual connections among the pieces of information stored within your memory.” Is that happening?

Presently we’re free from remembering information because with the click of a mouse we can pull up anything, so there’s no intellectual depth. Brain overload happens! Carr questions, “Do you believe that intelligence is a matter of tapping into huge amounts of information as fast as possible - being more productive, as the WIRED writer says – or do you think intelligence means stepping back from that information, thinking about it, and drawing your own conclusions in a calm, thoughtful way?”

Every era has its unique advancements in processing information. Carr points out, “The assumption is that access to computers and the Internet provides a big educational benefit for young children, even though there is no solid evidence for this.”

From a physical point of view, a computer contains toxic gases, metals, acids, plastics, and corrosive chemical substances. The dust from some printer toner cartridges contains harmful substances such as mercury and nickel.

I’m not one to chortle, “I told you so!” Computer use has its rewards, but let’s not rip up our library cards, set fire to our books, and cancel all of our magazine and newspaper subscriptions just yet! Some things are never outdated, like the capacity for deep thought and reflection. Electronics are no match for cultivated wisdom.

Besides, I still miss my clothesline.

Janet Burns now enjoys her home computer and gets along very well with modern conveniences. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.

 

 

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