So you can read my books

Friday, May 31, 2013


"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
- William James


"There is no expedient to which a man will go to avoid the real labor of thinking."
- Thomas Edison

     My blood center is initiating a system wide change, funneling thousands of extra blood units weekly to its headquarters WITHOUT giving us any written S.O.P.  They will give that to us MAYBE next week.

     Until then we will obey telephoned instructions and adapt them to prevailing problems. 

"What is the hardest task in the world? To think."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

     It got me to thinking: is thinking a lost art?  
     I love to read. But I’m convinced that the greatest value in reading is not the information, but rather what we think about while we read (that’s why what we choose to read is so important).

     Reading without reflection is like eating without digestion.

     Mental clarity is power. And clarity comes from thinking.

     We need to think, and think carefully about the choices and direction of our lives. The most precious resource we have is our time. Our lives are the sum total of what we do with that time. Isn’t it worth spending more of it thinking?

     As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved.

     Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not,

     Studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary.

     Reading for pleasure is the key to developing these skills.

     Students today have more visual literacy and less print literacy.

     Many students do not read for pleasure and have not for decades.
     A university study found that college students who watched "CNN Headline News" with just the news anchor on screen and without the "news crawl" across the bottom of the screen

     remembered significantly more facts from the televised broadcast than those who watched it
with the distraction of the crawling text and with additional stock market and weather information on the screen.

     Are all the modern devices and digital conveniences we have at our disposal —

       from the web and social media to smartphones and tablets

       making us more distracted and less able to concentrate?

And is this harming our ability to think and be creative, and therefore by extension harming society as a whole? 

Sociologist Dr. Sherry Turkle:

“We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.

We expect more from technology and less from each other.”

Turkle has written about how the internet doesn’t help form real relationships, but fosters a kind of fake intimacy.

Nicholas Carr argues in his book The Shallows that the internet and social media are making us less intelligent — and less interesting — and are actually changing our brains in negative ways.

It goes without saying that digital media have also altered our fundamental notions of and respect for privacy.

Young people now routinely post and share private, personal information and opinions on social media platforms

without fully considering the potential consequences.

(Photo: Handout via AP)

BANGOR, Maine (AP)

A man indicted for the murder of a teenage girl used a fake Facebook account to lure her from her home so that he could stage her kidnapping and rescue and appear to be a hero, according to a state police affidavit.

What do you think? 

Is critical thinking on the decline? 

Are our digital media hurting our ability to think and to interact with each other in person? 

Is there anything we can do about it if so?


  1. A thinker needs to be receptive to learning and open to new ideas. Reflection takes time.

    We're told to cram more things into our day, but thinking isn't one of them. Perhaps writing serves that purpose - another way of thinking through what we observe and try to understand.

    Good luck with your thinking!

  2. "I’m convinced that the greatest value in reading is not the information, but rather what we think about while we read"

    And I whole heartedly agree with this assessment Roland. I think this statement is why I love reading so much, why it intrigued me as a child. I saw concepts that questioned my world expectations.

    I liked it. i wanted more, so I became an avid reader at a young age. I did not always agree with what I read, but I always had an informed opinion.

    Today's youth does not choose to explore the world of alternative thinking. Even their video games that are supposed to teach them critical thinking often lead to only ONE conclusion. My critical thinking classes in social worker school taught me that there are many paths to a variety of conclusions; but it is the thinker's mind set that determine the outcomes.

    Have you seen the games of today? I don't play, but I've watched/listened to my kinds; and what I've learned is that there are many paths to the SAME conclusion. Its all cookie cutter to the same result. There may be several "out-side the box" routes to a correct decision; but only one route that ends the game in failure.

    What does the queen of hearts say: all ways are my way. *curtsy*

    I don't believe critical thinking is on the decline; I just believe it is so regulated genuises don't recognize when they are being led down a specific path.

    And there is no such thing as privacy in this technologically advanced world. I have friends who refuse to pay their house-hold bills online, or even to acccess their bank accounts online for fear someone will be able to steal their personal info the moment they log on.

    They think I'm crazy when I tell them their personal info is already on line because it is stored on line. Banks transfer info electronically; IRS transfers electronically; doctor's offices transfer stored info electronically. And individual has no control of their personal info because they NEED it to be online at some point.

    I don't get why anyone thinks their FB or e-mail accounts are in any way private.

    The world is changing; convenience replaces privacy, and cheat sheets trump critical thinking.


  3. We as in everyone, is sharing to much information... we are using technology as an excuse to be lazy for our brains. I am not sure why they make it so easy for this to happen, but we are becoming mindless servants to our on devices. I woke up to read what happened on Facebook in the last 6 hours [first thing].

    What happened, I think I am... wasting away.

    No we have an app for everything, we are lambs for the slaughter and we will end up destroying ourselves to the machines.

    I think this made some sense, I am still pulling the why the heck am I awake...

  4. second... Facebook is that bully waiting for someone to post.

  5. I believe it's called sensory overload. Too many things coming at us and we are unable to concentrate on just one thing.
    I admit sometimes I will look something up on my iPad and joke that I don't need my brain when I have access to the Internet. But I think if we provide content as well as absorb it, we will continue to think.
    And that is why I share so few personal things online.

  6. I'm thinking about phone numbers. I used to have to remember everyone's number-now-they're all stored in my phone and I only know work and Jason's. Sad, huh?

    I agree with what you've stated. And remember RIF? Reading IS fundamental. We read to the kids in our class. You can tell the ones who don't get read to. Either they hunger for stories-or they hate books. And often the imaginary play is just about tv shows. We try to act out things, show them how to think creatively. Sadly, too many are babysat by the tv. Technology is a great tool, an accessory. It shouldn't be the absolute. Great post!

  7. D.G.:
    We need solitude and time to think: two commodities that are being more scarce by the second.

    The world is too much with us to borrow from a mind greater than my own.

    Writing well takes insight, skill, and time -- all of those three are withering from lack of critical thinking.

    Thanks for the insightful reply.

    Your reply indicates you are a thinker in depth. :-)

    Critical thinking that does not realize it is being led is not very critical, is it?

    I think we must fight not to become victims of the sound bite, the fleeting words at the bottom of the screen. We must think of what agenda the speaker, institutions, or governments have when they spin their version of reality.

    The TV series, PERSON OF INTEREST, presents a harrowing take on just how open we all our to scrutiny from multiple sources.

    Studies have shown how businesses can take information from thousands of Facebook accounts and theorize astoundingly accurate patterns of what customers will buy and how to get them to buy more of it.

    Our cars are low-jacked, our phones' microphones can be turned on to listen to us, our computers can be turned on by hackers when we are absent, turning on the cameras and mikes in them to spy on us.

    We are not alone. And the alien invasion is from the alien within our society.

    PANDORA keeps flashing me to share my tastes in music on FACEBOOK every time I tune in to its website. I refuse each time.

    Sites let you log in by using FACEBOOK. Like you, I feel FACEBOOK is a bully biding its time. Brrr.

    Like you, I have begun to refrain from sharing too much online. Besides sensory overload, we are training our minds to only perceive in small bites of data with TWITTER, FACEBOOK, and summations of news on the net.

    We are hurting ourselves in ways in which we do not realize. Sigh.

    Words Crafter:
    I had a poster in my class room with Snoopy proudly holding up his calculator with the words: WHO NEEDS BRAINS WHEN YOU HAVE BATTERIES!

    You are right: we are betrayed by our reliance on technology -- being used by it even more than we use it!

    Thanks for stopping by and chatting. May your weekend be healing. Me? I am working -- now, in the dark -- and like Indiana Jones, making it up as I go along. Sadly, if I do something contrary to the SOP I have not been given, I will be written up.

    Help! I'm a prisoner in a Mel Brooks film! LOL.

  8. I do believe that technology is changing the way we think, but not that it's eradicating the ability to think, or even that all these changes are bad. If anything, it's more of a gray area with both upsides and downsides. The human brain has always been in flux, so as long as we're aware of the downsides, we can better make sure we avoid the more negative effects of such changes...

  9. It's all about priorities. You don't have to Tweet or Facebook or surf the net. There's nothing in this world you have to do but earn just enough of a living to survive and take care of the people you love. I refuse to succumb to sensory overload because it's my choice. I don't watch TV. Commercials and messages scrolling across screens are ludicrous. I love certain shows, but I get the DVDs or watch on iTunes commercial free. I choose not to view crap I don't need. I don't want to live in the 1800s so I do use the web, but blogs are better because they are usually longer and more thoughtful than other mediums. It's my 'news'. I do not watch regular news or read it because there are few good reporters left and everything in the media is regurgitated and unexamined in any real detail. If something important happens, I hear about it through my friends, who I talk to in person. I take 15 minutes every morning to sit down with my best friend at work and share a coffee and a conversation. No iPhones, no distractions. I do the same with my husband when we cook and eat dinner. The two year old can be distracting, but we don't add in any extras. It's our time to discuss and think about various topics we each encountered during the day. Our lives are our choices, and we need to teach our children to be strong and not buy into what everyone else is doing. They have the choice to lead a more thoughtful, independent and fulfilled life. We all do.

  10. Extraordinary post, Roland, truly. As a sociologist, I question whether proper socialization is even possible in a digitized society. There is no moral code, no set boundaries. You don't like one group's rules? Do a Google search and find another.

    Our most precious birthright is self-determination. If we go through life unthinking, uninformed, spoon-fed only what Big Brother wants us to consume, we have, for all intents and purposes, sacrificed our free will. But thinking is hard, and not thinking is easy. Sadly, easy trumps all else in today's world.

    I agree that the greatest value in reading is the opportunity to think, but there are many readers—and I'm not talking children here—who read books for the express purpose of *not* thinking, who in fact are annoyed when a book forces them to question a political, social, psychological, or philosophical reality. Unfortunately, it is the these mindless, repetitive, drone books that are increasingly eating up library and bookstore space.

    Q: Is there anything we can do about all this?
    A: No, because there is no real "we," and that pretty much sums up the problem.

    VR Barkowski

  11. Heather:
    Not erradicating our ability to think -- just hobbling it with training us to read in shorter snippets until long pages of text become numbing to our minds.

    You're right: as long as we know the dangers we can adapt -- if we choose. :-)

    Yes, as my Lakota mother kept telling me: the only things we had to do was breathe, eat, and sleep -- the rest was negotiable! :-)

    Our choices shape us act by act, thought by thought like brushstrokes on the blank canvas of our personality.

    Thanks for the great words. Yes, I think we hide behind digital walls from the slings and arrows of the physical world into which we must venture for school or for employment.

    The path of least resistance is the road that is the most worn by feet these days it seems. But a river without banks is just a swamp. And life is dark and harsh in a swamp.

    What you wrote of thinking and reading made me recall what Harlan Ellison wrote --

    “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; but if you really make them think, they'll hate you.”

    The "We" of modern culture is a mob. Each of us must choose to be all that we can be or choose to be comfortable. They are two different paths. Great reply as always, Roland

  12. "Reading without reflection is like eating without digestion." Right on! And I suspect thinking is a lost art, or certainly on its way of becoming one. Facebook, anyone?