Do you obsessively check your phone – or know someone who does? It’s a bit akin to OCD behaviour where someone may obsessively wash their hands or clean the room. When we keep checking into this virtual identity we have – FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out, so people relentlessly check Facebook in case someone has messaged them. Real-time virtual conversations sometimes happening at the same time as the face-to-face real-time conversations. What is this doing to our attention, being focussed on two streams at the same time? It’s now called ‘continuous partial attention’. I believe that the brain is already evolving to reshape to present day demands, so who knows if another layer of cortex will be apparent in a few decades time!
There is work emerging to show that GOOGLE, has had an impact on our memories, as it becomes our collective memory that we can tap into at any time. We now remember where the information is stored, rather than the information itself. I was first awareness of this when back in 2010 I decided to do some teaching for 16/17 year olds. Any questions were referred to Google on the mobiles, essays being a collection of cut and pastes. However the collection of cut and pasts didn’t flow in a logical fashion, with much repetition said in a different way from obvious different sources.
A digital identity for social media is part of the new age as the Internet becomes the favourite media tool and pastime. How accurate or may I say how aligned to your physical, emotional and intellectual self is your digital identity? Is it a true reflection or does it start to become part of a fantasy of who we really want to be?
We often talk about the burdens and responsibilities of the youth of today: debt, pollution, climate change etc the ingenuity of the information age. So adolescents today go through two sometimes painful journeys of building a sense of identity, both their changing physical, biological and emotional selves and now also the online self, which they spend time grooming and maintaining. Has education caught up yet, are we leaving them to struggle with this new phenomenon in experimental format?
People often ask me why mindfulness has become so popular – well here is one of the reasons and why teaching self-awareness to teenagers in the education system should be standardised.