I am sick and tired of all the so called scientists and luddites talking of the horrors of social networking.
The Luddites of the old destroyed mechanical mills because they felt they were threatened. The Luddites of today attack electronic communication. The principle remains the same. A belief that the status quo is somehow ‘better’. And thank goodness that the Luddites of the old did not succeed else we would still be weaving cloth by hand!
In a talk at the EU parliament, I once said that we risk creating regulations on behalf of younger people who are going to have to live with them long after we are gone.
Leaving them the legacy of Global warming is bad enough!
Many of the concerns are being amplified by media but that may be very one sided
Take calls to shut down Google street view, Who has not benefited from Google street view? Millions of people happily use it(for free!) or the very sad story of the what the media labels as the Facebook killer. My question is: If two people meet by letters, and a crime is committed, would we call it the ‘Royal mail killer‘?
Blaming the medium is never the solution
Meanwhile, the Mayo clinic says that Social network support is a way to reduce stress .. and Stanford University Law School Dr Ryan carlo distinguishes between Privacy violation vs privacy harm
In my view, the OPPOSITE is true .. i.e. blindly publishing something under some form of ‘authority’ is malicious to humanity.
Take the case of the infamous Malleus Maleficarum
The Malleus Maleficarum (Latin for “The Hammer of Witches”, or “Der Hexenhammer” in German) is a infamous treatise on witches, written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer, an Inquisitor of the Church, and was first published in Germany in 1487. The main purpose of the Malleus was to attempt to systematically refute arguments claiming that witchcraft does not exist, discredit those who expressed skepticism about its reality, to claim that witches were more often women than men, and to educate magistrates on the procedures that could find them out and convict them.
The Malleus Maleficarum was able to spread throughout Europe so rapidly in the late fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century due to the innovation of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century by Johannes Gutenberg. Popular accounts suggest that the extensive publishing of the Malleus Maleficarum in 1487 launched centuries of witch-hunts in Europe.
Estimations of deaths have varied widely but they range into the thousands and often these were poor, defenseless women
The point is, you could not publish this kind of a book NOW because everyone would challenge it and it’s intellectual shortcoming and frankly, stupidity, would be apparent.
So, far from rewiring us or making us stupid as the experts claim, social networking is actually making us wiser and more critical by merely exposing us to different points of view.
Like the famous open source dictum goes Linus’s law : Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow
Finally, let us address the question directly:
Does social networking change your brain? Yes ofcourse.
In order to drive a traditional black cab in London drivers have to gain “the knowledge” – an intimate acquaintance with the myriad of streets in a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. Taxi drivers given brain scans by scientists had a larger hippocampus compared with other people. This is a part of the brain associated with navigation in birds and animals. The scientists also found part of the hippocampus grew larger as the taxi drivers spent more time in the job.
So, using parts of your brain in a certain way changes it.
Is that harmful?
Nicholas Carr and Susan Greenfield are merely stating the obvious.
You don’t need to go through all that effort.
Ask your local London black cab driver and trust me, they have a view on everything!
It is part of natural evolution as Dawrin or Dawkins would tell you .. But lets not go there .. It’s open season on men and women of reason this week!
To conclude: We need to educate and increase the awareness of reason and critical thinking. Blocking the flow of new ideas is not a solution
I want to collect stories about the positive/support benefits of social networking. Not your personal stories but more links.
I may use it in a forthcoming book. For instance, my favourite is the case of the 90 year old blogger!
Please comment or email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com
Image: Leader of the Luddites presumably on the way to burn down some mechanical looms (wikipedia)