Buuuzzzz, the alarm clock goes off; the radio comes on with all the terrible news that happened yesterday. Just to make sure I wake up on time, I also set my cell phone to ring; and there it goes, right on time. I immediately check the 20 text messages on my cell phone and answer the ones I want to; then I go to the computer to check my email and delete a whole bunch of useless ads. A few messages sent by humans I respond to and ignore the rest. My cell phone beeps every few moments as a new text message comes across the airways to me. I turn on the TV so I can watch the current news. While half listening to the news I play a few rounds of ANGRY BIRDS on my cell phone. Glancing out the window reminds me to check the weather which I can do with an app on my phone. The weatherman says there was a freezing rain last night and the roads may be hazardous. Searching out my car keys, I touch the button that starts my car so it will be warm and defrosted when I am ready to leave.
This may sound like fiction to some of you, but trust me, when I say this is the ever present lifestyle of the current technological generation, and more importantly, only the first wave of technologies to come! The question I wish to pose is: Can the human brain handle all this constant stimulation? At what point will some people’s brains simply shut down and refuse to allow all this stimulation in? Our kids are already being trained to cope with the constant barrage of information as computer technology becomes more Omni-present in the classroom. I just read that a school system in California has equipped every student with a computer pad so that they are continually connected to the web.
I fear that I am showing my age with this growing concern for where we are heading as a culture. I do not want to join the ranks of my father’s and his father’s generation and denigh the wonderful innovation that I am benefiting from. I love my computer and cell phone and would be hard pressed to be without them! The difference is this: I try to not let these devices interfere with my day-to-day interaction with people around me. Regardless of where I am, I see more and more people totally engaged with their cell phone, unable to acknowledge the world around them. People biking, driving cars, running, or doing just about any other activity are totally engaged with their devices. We have all heard of the growing number of auto wrecks caused by cell phone use while driving. I wonder how many bicycle wrecks could be attributed to mobile devices? How many runners have run out in front of a car while stripped of one of their best defenses, their hearing? How many conversations have you missed because you were on your phone as an old friend walked by but kept going because you were on the phone?
As I write this blog, this all seems a little trite, but I am more concerned with the long-range implications of this new wave of innovations. So often over the last half century we have created devices and then worried about the problems they caused after they became an integral part of society. One examples of this is the car by which more than 100 people a day on average die. Many experts have concerns about the effect that cell phone micro-radiation has on the human body, particularly the brain. Consider this-our wonderful dish TV beams down a constant 5 to 10 watts of micro-radiation on the earth 24/7. The chemicals in our environment are so toxic and pervasive that over the last 100 years, due to the estrogen mimicking industrial chemicals in the air, ground and water, girls now reach puberty at the average age of 11 instead of 17. I found the following on a site called The Guardian:
Today most doctors accept that the age of onset of puberty is dropping steadily. Many studies have showed this to be
the case for girls, and new research carried out by Herman-Giddens, and published by the American Academy of Pediatrics,
has found the same for boys. The age of onset of biological adulthood continues to plunge. Consider the statistics
provided by German researchers. They found that in 1860, the average age of the onset of puberty in girls was 16.6 years.
In 1920, it was 14.6; in 1950, 13.1; 1980, 12.5; and in 2010, it had dropped to 10.5. Similar sets of figures have
been reported for boys, albeit with a delay of around a year.
Boys are maturing prematurely as well! The world-wide sperm count is dropping every year!
So back to where I started; how do we know the long-term effects of all this new technology on world population? The answer is: we don’t know! But guess what, we are all taking part in a large experiment to find out how this new communication technology will affect us, and some day in the not too distant future, some scientist will publish a paper telling us the results of our latest experiment. Who knows, maybe he will send us a thank-you note for being part of the data set. Don’t hold your breath on that!