What psychologists are saying about how technology affects us

Speaking about “The Secret Powers of Time”, Stanford professor emeritus Philip Zimbardo (famous for the Stanford Prison Experiment) explains how various perspectives of time – past, present and future – influence our actions and relationships. There are six main orientation time zones:

  • Past: Past positive (nostalgic), or past negative (regretful)
  • Present: hedonistic (seeking pleasure, knowledge), or fatalistic (“It doesn’t pay to plan”)
  • Future: resist temptation for future benefit, or geared to reward after death (both build on trust or expectation)

Catholic nations are more present and past oriented, while Protestant nations are more future orientated.

He says we are going through a time revolution. Children are naturally and essentially hedonistic and present-oriented. What schools around the globe do is to give them a past or future orientation (depending on the predominant culture). Now computer games are increasingly keeping children in their present-hedonistic state, rewiring their brains, so they will be bored in the analogue classroom. Games are indeed addictive, and “all addictions are addictions of present hedonism.” School and education is all about delaying gratification, but present oriented kids will not relate the messages to themselves and their future. I hear echos of my father talking about “instant gratification” as a key element of hedonistic pop culture back when I was a teen in the 1970s.

Philip Zimbardo (2008): The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life. Free Press.

Sherry Turkle, professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, writes that mobile devices are becoming the vehicle for intimate relationships, as robots take on responsibilities previously born by friends and family. The instantaneous, engineered response is in fact allowing us to flee from conversation, which takes effort in terms of time and patience, and hence requires us to build those essential skills.

“Most of all, we need to remember — in between texts and e-mails and Facebook posts — to listen to one another, even to the boring bits, because it is often in unedited moments, moments in which we hesitate and stutter and go silent, that we reveal ourselves to one another.”
Sherry Turkle: The Flight From Conversation, NYT April 21, 2012

Sherry Turkle (2011): Alone Together. Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic Books.

Jack White: Love Interruption

Instant classic. The first single off of Blunderbuss, Jack White’s solo debut, with great Nashville musicians, features an all woman band, very stylish in this video, in long dresses and high hair, harking back to Bo Diddley’s band in the 60s.

The album is now out on iTunes, and expectations are confirmed: “I’m Shakin'” quotes the master: “I’m Bo Diddley – You got me shakin’!” The album has the full Jack-White range of styles. Nice.

I’ve read that White is planning to go on tour with two bands, a female and a male one, and on the day of the concert he’ll decide which one to play with. Fun!

Jack White: Love Interruption

I want love
To roll me over slowly
stick a knife inside me,
and twist it all around.

I want love to
grab my fingers gently
slam them in a doorway
put my face into the ground.

I want love to
murder my own mother
and take her off to somewhere
like hell or up above.

I want love to
change my friends to enemies,
change my friends to enemies
and show me how it’s all my fault.

I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me x 2
Yeah I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt, or interrupt me anymore.

I want love to
walk right up and bite me
grab a hold of me and fight me
leave me dying on the ground.

And I want love to
split my mouth wide open and
cover up my ears,
and never let me hear a sound.

I want love to
forget that you offended me
or how you have defended me,
when everybody tore me down.

Yeah I want love to
change my friends to enemies,
change my friends to enemies
and show me how it’s all my fault.

Yeah I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me
I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me
I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt, or interrupt me anymore.

Wonderful portrait in “It Might Get Loud” (2009):