Screen Culture

07Dec09

After attending the 4th annual Mind & Its Potential conference Dec. 2-3rd in Sydney, Australia, I was left with an overwhelming and confusing sense of inspiration.  The two day conference was like attending an action packed TED talk jam fest!   Short sessions of neuroscientists, psychiatrists and philosophers joined together in dialogue about their expertise in brain science and applications.   My new friend Paul Mason wrote about the 40+  speakers, “Some of the biggest stars from the Brain Sciences and Buddhist traditions were on stage for an incredible show of collaboration, integration and contemplation.” Sooo true, obrigada Paul.

As I reflect and process the learnings from the conference, I shall highlight what I found pertinent for the specificity of 21st Century Learners, who use the screen as an interactive and social tool in today’s world.

The spicy Baroness Susan Greenfield spoke as the first expert on the neuroscience revolution: 21st Century Mind “Personalization” was the title of her talk.  She spoke to the future society about how the new technologies of interacting with screen life has many impacts that concern her deeply.  She shared insight on how too much dopamine damages the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain that guides decision making and reasoning, and some that would argue our pre-frontal cortex is our spiritual center.  She goes on to note that 21st Century culture is focused on ‘sensation’ and less on thinking–we are the here and now.  I giggled at her remark about the social networking and about the Twitter revolution stating, “Twitter is like being a child and having to show mummy every little thing you do….look mummy I did this…look mummy I did that….” I am paraphrasing here, but the point was made clear…we are a showy culture with our blogging and our social networks, and we strive to be a somebody v. a nobody.

However, the most important insight Dr. Greenfield shared with the audience, was the idea that our sensory world develops our cognitive world–or our experiences and feelings develop the way we think about ourselves and the world.  The idea of risk-taking in video games is a norm (as it is in life) but in life, the consequences are real and permanent.  In a video-game, there is a do over.  Dr. Greenfield even tried to argue with herself that video-games could be beneficial as a practice field for the real life experiences…but they really aren’t.

As the 21st century moves away from trying to hold on to 20th century ideologies, we note consequences of our actions that help and hinder society.   We strive for a society that both “minds” (yes, play on words here) the potential of the individual and that of a thoughtful community of beings, but are we oppressing ourselves with gadgets?  Are we positively enhancing our character with screen culture?  Humans do not stand alone as individuals, but we are interlinked to everyone else.  How I personalize myself, directly affects others.

Can we as a society develop the empathetic individual in a very me-centered 21st century?


next post:  The In-cred-ible Charlie Teo

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3 Responses to “Screen Culture”

  1. “Can we as a society develop the empathetic individual in a very me-centered 21st century?”

    I think we can, and I think not only does technology allow us to be me-centered it allows us to be global at the same time. Take any number of mass collaborations that are underway.

    I take Kerry Dyke’s Bangkok Carrot Mob http://bangkok.carrotmob.org where in just over 2 weeks he has mobilized 1000s of people in Bangkok to support stores that give up using plastic bags.

    This has nothing to do with the “me” culture but the “us” culture. I think what this new digital media allows is for us to be a “me” within a greater “us”. The technology allows us to connect together, to make a difference, and allows my “me” space to support “our” cause.

    I think part of the issue is we are a society have always been focused on the “me” culture. Whether it be E!TV or Hollywood stars. We like, we crave, the “me” culture, thanks to 20th century media.

    As we move into this new century I think we’ll see a move away from the “me” culture to a “us” culture. Or that’s my hope anyway. 🙂


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