Sunday, May 11, 2008

Not all too human

If you remember, Marshal McLuhann argued that movable type altered the way our central nervous system worked. So it's not suprising that neurologist Susan Greenfield thinks that psychoative drugs and computers are altering the ways our brain works. She's worried about a number of things happening. Here's her very interesting article. I've wondered myself if we're not expecting psychoactive drugs and technology to make us better than human, and if that's not a bit Promethean.

Any thoughts from the other post-humans out there?

In a related note, Mark Bauerlein thinks that technology is actually making this "the dumbest generation" (in America, it should be noted). The Boston Globe lays out his argument in an article that is, ironically enough, dumbed down to about the People Magazine level of prose.

4 comments:

barahconnor said...

We are supposedly getting smarter, but I think with all the technology, our common sense is going down the drain. I also think that can avoid consequences of our actions for so long that when they finally smack us in the face, we wonder where it came from. This leads to us being out of reality...hence sorta stupid when it comes with understanding anything.

Like for instance, how blogging instead of studying doesn't help with finals grades! Hope to hear back from you or see comments on my new blog.

Hiromi said...

I've wondered myself if we're not expecting psychoactive drugs and technology to make us better than human, and if that's not a bit Promethean.

I've always struggled with the idea of being on meds (I'm off them, now, btw, and doing fine). Besides the fact that I'm not even sure they really helped me (won't go into wearying details here), it just felt...wrong somehow, for reasons that remain difficult to articulate.

Granted, for a condition like clinical depression that might end in death, I think few people would argue about what it means to give that person meds. But for grey area "disorders" like social anxiety and ADHD and the like, I'm not sure what the fuck all that's about.
I think some might argue for some sort of empowering aspect to meds, that we don't have to feel a certain way if we don't have to. But what are the ultimate ends in that? What kind of people are we trying to be? Is the definition of "normal" changing?

I really don't know. But it seems to be that while it looks like our options are increasing, they're really not. It's like the acceptable range of ways to look and act are narrowing.

Hiromi said...

Uh?

I meant, "we don't have to feel a certain way if we don't WANT to"

Rufus said...

Barahconnor: Don't worry- blogging makes you smarter.

Hiromi: Someone pointed out that it's a bit like plastic surgery- it was developed to help seriously disabled (or disfigured) people and has been steadily pushing up the norm to extremes that are unrealistic.