Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The End of Contemplation

Anderson Gardens, Rockford, Illinois
I'm currently reading research on the effects of hyper-technology on culture, which means on humanity. One of the books is Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age (Maggie Jackson), and a second book Harvard's Howard Gardner and Katie Davis's The App Generation

Tonight Gardner and Davis have pointed me to David Levy's essay "Information, Silence, and Sanctuary." What an intriguing title for someone like me, who is on a mission to bring about a revival of focus and one-thingness in the form of solitary prayer and Christ-abiding. All these authors tell me we're going to see less and less, and less, of the ability to attend and fix on one thing. This will render, for example, the biblical book of Hebrews cognitively inaccessible.

Contemplation and meditation will be gone. Gardner writes: "Technology was intended to free up time for unstructured contemplation, but paradoxically it seems to have had the opposite effect." (Gardner and Davis, The App Generation, pp. 74-75)

Levy states: 

"The easy availability... of vast amounts of information seems to have led to a pervasive sense of overload. The presence of multiple communication devices and information sources has fostered an interrupted style of working that threatens concentration and productivity. And the possibility of communicating and acting quickly has encouraged a speedup in work practices and expectations that at times feels unsustainable and counterproductive. It is a puzzling state of affairs, for it appears that technologies intended to increase human effectiveness and productivity may - at times, and in ways still poorly understood - be having the opposite effect." (Levy, 233-234) 

Gardner and Davis write: "Epitomizing the purpose of the app, we’re more focused on doing than on being." (The App Generation, p. 75)