Although the issue may be one that is on few people’s radar screens these days amidst the widening web of excitement that the appearance of the latest digital devices are bringing to all of us, and amidst the obvious fact that our world is becoming very much a cyber one, the nature of intelligence itself may be in the process of being adversely affected. That is, the addictive way in which people are now using digital technologies may be affecting their mental capacities and emotive lives in unhealthy ways which lead toward a more limited intelligence.
For example, people’s attention spans, working memories, and capacity for deep reading and thought may be in danger of being significantly imperiled by their obsessive use of smart phones, tablets, and PCs at a level which negatively affects their short and long-term memories, their attention spans, and likewise their ability to think creatively.
In addition, because their natural stream of awareness to which certain psychological flow states are related may be imperiled by the interruption machine that the Internet has become for so many people, their capacity for a deeper examination of their lives and themselves may be affected, as are the quiet spaces inside people necessary for creative insight.
People’s emotive lives may also be in the process of being dulled by their continual acquaintance with sterile images on the plastic screens of their computers, negatively affecting not only their capacity for direct insight into themselves and the circumstances of their lives, but likewise their capacity for such insight into the truths that great art and literature have to offer.
Finally, if people’s working memories and capacity for extended periods of thought are under assault in our current digital age as people increasingly outsource their memories to certain digital devices and websites, they may be losing their once clear access to these dynamics. Consequently, it will become increasingly difficult for them to at least temporarily step outside the structure of thought and memory in order to clearly examine these things.
Presently, there are a number of articles and books written, and even studies being done about how the cyber world and people’s addictive use of digital devices might be negatively affecting their working memories, emotive lives, and ability to think creatively. Yet to date it seems that no one has really taken the next step and examined how people’s use of the Web and digital technologies may likewise be affecting their capacity for a larger intelligence; this intelligence being defined more broadly as a consciousness that while existing on the other side of thought and memory is also going to require a fully intact cognitive and emotive life if it is to be properly explored. So here goes:
Qualities of Intelligence Potentially Compromised by the Digital Age
- A fully focused attention
- Full access to one’s working memories (both short and long-term)
- Capacity for direct insight into situations and people
- Ability to think creatively
- A vibrant emotive life
- Capacity for developing a clear internal picture of one’s world
- Capacity for deep thought and reading
- Ability to explore the boundaries of though and memory
- Capacity for achieving a mental flow state that is creative
- Access to truths that great art and literature might represent
- Capacity to examine one’s conditioning through self-reflection
Lyn Lesch’s book Intelligence in the Digital Age: How the Search for Something Larger May be Imperiled was recently published by Rowman & Littlefield.