Technology changes thoughts and feelings
The unprecedented world created by computers and television in the 21st century dramatically changes our thoughts and feelings.
This was the view of Baroness Susan Greenfield, Professor in Pharmacology at Oxford University and fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS), on Wednesday (8 June) during this year’s fifth STIAS lecture.
According to Greenfield, personal experiences and changing environments play an important role in the development of the brain. Television and computers create new worlds and put new demands on the brain.
“Computer games lead to fragmented attention, shorter attention span and increased recklessness, especially in young people because the front part of the brain, which controls cognitive behaviour, personality, decision making and social behaviour, does not receive the necessary stimulation. Many young people suffer from obesity and lack a robust identity.”
She argues that social networks cause reduced empathy, physical contact and a crisis of identity. Cyber space and reality merge in the current technological environment.
“Certain things do not hold personal significance for us any more because we struggle to see the link between things. It often happens that something is done only for the thrill of it,” said Greenfield.
She is of the opinion that we need a dialogue between the brain and the outside world. It is important to look again at the way we use technology in the 21st century. According to Greenfield, services and products of the future must contribute towards the promotion of creativity and a robust identity.
Our ideas can inspire us to add value to society.
“We need to see the world in a new way so that we can have meaning in ourselves and others. We have the opportunity to make the world a better place for future generations,” she said.