Screen Culture

10 May

I just finished watching this webcast of a très interesting talk given at the Oxford Internet Institute last month by Susan Greenfield, entitled ‘Does the Mind Have a Future?’.

Susan Greenfield at the Oxford Internet Institute, April 2011

The story is that by spending more and more time interacting with screens, rather than other human beings, our brains may be adapting in new ways. Greenfield picks up on one positive effect (higher IQ), and a whole load of negatives (e.g. shorter attention span, less empathy, lower sense of identity).

I don’t know enough about psychology or neuroscience to make an educated comment, but it seems a no-brainer than someone who spends every day reporting their life on Facebook / Twitter is going to miss out on some pretty important features of human interaction (body language, physical contact, eye contact, etc.). On the other hand, I doubt a quick blast on FIFA 2011 or Call of Duty could do too much harm.

When Stephen Fry gave his thoughts on social networking, I loved his comment that certain people were worried when the postbox first came along, because a daughter could send love letters to her sweetheart(s) for the first time without having to pass by her father. Maybe all these fears about information technology’s long-term impacts will prove to be similarly unfounded. Or maybe not. In any case, Susan Greenfield’s talk is really thought-provoking. Right…better finish this blog post before another brain cell dies!

[Webcast] Baroness Susan Greenfield – Does the Mind Have a Future?

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