Loss of Think Time by Amanda McDonald

In the late 1970's, Saturday mornings were bliss until all programming ended at 11 to the Star Spangled Banner, a waving American flag , static, then color bars, if you were flossy, which I was not. My bars were black and white. Time was measured by season and photos were developed, not instantly posted without review and a frenetic race to triple like digits.

We have lost “think time” or just a prolonged, uninterrupted time of silence, limited external stimuli and a human brain feeding off of itself.

We have lost the ability to ponder, to wonder and to wander with no planned direction or destination that constantly overshadows the path. The result are unremarkable insights and observations that lack depth, analysis and/or reflection. We react, instead of actuate, and we respond, violently, to the slightest of vibrations, a steady humming to drown thoughts showing signs of volume. We are Pavlov’s dogs (no offense to the dogs) BUT we aren’t learning any response. That is, unless, instinctively reacting to the distractor counts as a response. Granted, even reflex is a response, but a person in a vegetative state can generate this just as easily.

True thought is barely occurring. Ideas are unexplored embryos, forgotten, withered. Concepts never unfold, develop, marinate. Distraction and novelty are the popular buffet and it’s so so affordable, the masses can consume too which gives them less chance to complain. Fed an assembly line of disparate, colorful, glitzy stimuli and clickbait mental cockteasers constantly streaming to ya from our phones and redirecting our brains to something new, something else, something totally unrelated and mostly inconsequential? Stimuli-response-stimuli-response. Like Like Like thumbs up emoji gif Snapchat Instagram Facebook Twitter Tinder Tumbler, your worth counted in likes or hearts or views or engagements.

This is not thinking. This is measuring and it is how the idle and unenlightened quantify their value. Again not thinking. When presented with a tiny window within which one could think, most scramble to occupy that moment with a quick game, check in, status update, selfie, tweet. Life is filtered by the predetermined algorithms of an app that sells my travels to those not concerned with my success. Those not concerned with my thoughts, the words that I use are too cumbersome and demand more than emojis — someone else’s depiction of your emotional intelligence and prescribed range in 6 chicken broth, lobotomized, yellow faced emoticons that spans the vast universe of complex human emotion. That’s all we’ve accomplished — associating and homogenizing is all in 6 lovely parts. Emoticons. They even have a movie. Dafuque has happened?

We are capable of brilliant, kaleidoscopic, psychedelic, complex, intricate emotions — using a language that allows for tremendous and broad reach but we are losing the ability to express it because we use symbols before words and this starves our language, limits vocabulary, homogenized our experiences. It’s doublespeak. Listen to Trump. He’s fluent in it. Fake News. Very Fake News. Fake

An 8 year old with a phone is the death of innocence. It murders that child’s ability to ponder. Logic is completely compromised, common sense is stunted and reflection of the sort that grants one to genuinely and meaningfully apply information in such a way that growth or enlightenment can occur, simply does not occur. At best, it occurs less frequent but is there reason to be optimistic?

I remember long road trips and miles of silence in between rounds of “I Spy…” or alphabet license relays. Gazing out a window, hearing my swallows and the whispers of breath thru my nose, my brain had to engage in fancy if only to fill the miles and forget the boredom. Radio stations didn’t reach many places and my family didn’t do sing-a-longs.

I see screens on the seat backs in suped up SUVs. Trip to Whole Foods, yoga class, The kids in those SUVs are denied this practice of self inspection and fed a Disney buffet that gives the eyes a great display but starves the mind of its predisposition to process info and input in any profound way. Just receive this stimuli and when it ends more will follow. Consume consume consume don’t question just receive receive receive and you won’t conceive anything of real value or worth or substance.

The brain atrophies, imagination dissolves, relationships suffer, become flimsy and grossly shallow and concepts like reflection or philosophizing or critically thinking become trivial and meaningless.

Nothing of depth can be sustained in this environment.

The concept of loyalty is diluted to retweets shares and followers, if not completely abandoned for whatever might be currently trending.

The goal of evolution is to improve, right? Well, maybe adapt but implicit in this is to get better. As a species, humans should, ideally, get better with time — over subsequent generations. Our DNA should strengthen as the combo of the best genes from the genetic best made from the genetic best of the genetic….blah blah blah..and, sure, we are admittedly stronger and better looking. We are taller, living longer and all that, but, mentally??? Well, we have got to be just colossal let downs, evolutionally speaking.

Homo Sapiens will be known as the Stage of Obscene Disappointment. Here we are, top of the food chain, no other species even a respectable challenge to our dominance. We dwell on this badass planet that provides so much in such great abundance, so great we are guaranteed to thrive, but, we do not. We have not. Not of late.

Our brains are smaller and our senses are less developed. Essentially, what we collectively now are is an upright lobotomy with a libido and unlimited data. We show no evidence of morphing in to the next stage any would advance as “elevated”.

Only time seems to advance and pushes us farther away from the access to develop the potential to choose to aspire for better.

What if what we could be is now what we won’t be, ever?

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