Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Life Outside the Box

What a busy day. Well, sort of. A lot of driving was involved. Went to visit the dentist. We still go to the dentist in the area where we used to live. Two reasons:  firstly, we often have reasons to go down there, so it's no hassle, usually, to fit it in. Secondly, he's a very good dentist. Usually, it's an effort to stay awake in his comfiest of dentist's chairs, even when he's performing roadworks in my mouth with frankly medieval-looking instruments (as he was today. I needed a filling. He said he'd a few minutes to spare so he'd do it there and then. And he stuck a pin in it, too, he told me afterwards. And, yes, I almost dropped off).

Stopped at Wetherby Services for coffee on the way back. Surprisingly pleasant. Sat drinking said coffee while watching the A1 through the panoramic window. Had the sensation that the window was a cinema screen, and the comings and goings on the A1 a film. I could have sat there quite a long time.

On the way home we called in at a café - not for more coffee, but because we might get a gig there, if we're lucky.If you don't ask...

There was an article in the Observer on Sunday about the internet and the human brain. Is the internet changing the way our brains work - and if so, for the better or for the worse? I heard something to this effect on the radio recently, too. One of the main planks of the case seems to be that prose on the net is short, so using the net a lot conditions us to have short attention spans. Another is that links encourage us to choose between options as opposed to coming up with additional ideas. On reflection, I decided it was a load of tosh. If anything encourages us to do these things it's newspapers. I found myself consciously leafing through the Observer Review and, yes, my eye grazed the content much as I might graze the net. There were more similarities than differences and I've been doing this every since I started reading newspapers - years before the net came into being. As for choice and creative thinking, I don't think people need the net to slavishly choose as opposed to thinking originally. Socially, original thought is often frowned upon or derided: this goes for everything from social details (coincidentally, this follows on rather nicely from my recent thoughts on "man skirts") to wider political life. For example, whoever heard of an election where, in addition to the candidates, a large box was provided for the voter to write about what he or she might like to happen instead? Think outside the box and your ballot paper is considered spoilt.

The whole thing reminded me rather of the argument that was all the rage in my childhood: comics were bad for the brain and discouraged young people from reading serious books. All tosh, I suspect. The important thing is that young people are encouraged to read gradually more demanding literature - not that they be prevented from reading comics or browsing the net (although moderation, as in all things, may be called for). The biggest internet user I know (a keen game-player, too) is an avid reader of Dostoevsky.


Totalfeckineejit said...

Good thinking Batman.

Poet in Residence said...

A coffee stop after the drill? My God, Dominic, that's Yorkshire grit!
Good what you said. I was an avid comic reader: Dandy, Beano etc. Spent all my pocket money on them. Swapped them for Eagles. And I couldn't wait for next week. Graduated to Rover & Adventure. Tough of the Track. How to win a cross country race with a belly full of fish 'n' chips! Magic.

Elisabeth said...

Technologies and fashions change constantly. I resent the idea that all these new things are bad. It's that fuddy duddy argument about the good old days. There's good and bad in pretty well everything, including change, but without it we'd dry up.

The Weaver of Grass said...

There was a similar article in the Times on Saturday saying that children spent so much time on computers that conversation was limited - it cited a mother who texted her children when their meals were ready etc. There will always be people cobbling together arguments against 'progress' I think.