Smartphone, smartness and stupidity

Farooque Chowdhury

A new research by scientists at the San Diego State University finds, to put it briefly, a correlation between over-use of Smartphone and teens’ increased unhappiness. All major news providers have prominently presented the news of the study. Overall finding of the study annoys all parents, guardians and responsible citizens.

It’s not the only study that finds such annoying facts related to the young and misuse of one type of technology. Over the last few years many such studies have been conducted in a number of countries, and findings from those are basically and broadly the same: over- and misuse of online so-called social media, staying glued to electronic screen for longer hours, and harmful effect of these on development of the young. A number of prominent electronic-tech maestros have also divulged a few facts, which also speak about the harms brought home by the misuse. At least one of them has renounced his practice with that tech-tact. Many scientists including educationists, psychologists and physicians have expressed serious concern on the issue: over-/misuse of the tech by the young. Moreover, discussions are going on on regulating the tech’s over-/misuse by the young. Movements are being initiated to spread awareness about the problem, to encourage people to be careful about the ill-effect of over-/misuse of the tech, and its persistent use by the minors. Tech-free schools are being organized as a way to free the young learners from this tech-curse. A portion of the rich are taking advantage of these new initiatives.

But, the information is conveyed least to the under-developed societies, to the societies gripped by plunder-“development”. Rather, all out efforts are being made to spellbind these societies with the tech-gospel as if that’s the mantra for uplifting of human life, as if all karma should move around that tiny machine, as if the path to be great scientists and poets and philosophers is learning the tech at the earliest possible age, as if nirvana to material life lies in making teen-aged experts with the tech. Suggestions are being made in a style that carries the following message: practice the tech-yoga from cradle, if possible, from the womb-days, inspire all babies to learn the world-winning tech, because, that’s the “path” to prosperity.

Consequently, what’s happening? Millions of young eyes are glued to the few inches by few inches screens, young brains are bonded to those, length of concentration of young minds is determined by those powerful machines, imagination is determined by that technology, creativity is “created” by that machine, speed of young minds are determined by the tech. As a result, free flying young mind forgets to find something funny and interesting around the life the young mind dwells, the mind’s horizon of imagination narrows down to the machine, fails to find out problems other than those designed by the machine, physical activity and social interaction get lost – condition of a slave full with nothing but stupidity. To the society, a reign of rascals appears near horizon.

Innumerable flocks of such tech-controlled minds are not helpful to the status quo, even if someone throws away the dream of building up a new society, which is rational, humane, decent and free from indignities. Status quo cannot survive with childish game-efficient minds. It needs minds capable of confronting real life games: equations in economy and politics, games in geopolitics, geostrategy, geotactics and geography, problems in physics, philosophy, chemistry and propaganda. These are needed for operating its killing kilns – armament and punishment industries, for maintaining its façade of fear, essentials for its rule. Cogwheels of exploitation that status quo needs for its survival cannot be run and governed by minds made sterile by tiny, or, even by big, screens. Slaves and sheep cannot secure status quo. Worshippers of status quo cannot find any argument to differ with the assertions made above.

And, for a new society, new human is required. With a slavish attitude, with short span of concentration of mind, with attention unknowingly handed over to a machine designer, with soul sold to machine, with shallow ideas generated by profiteers marketing mind-control machines, no new society can be created; not even march for the cherished society can be organized. The march requires social interaction within a social reality. The march demands identifying contradictions within a reality, constituents of which are economy, society, politics. The march requires an inquisitive brain: question all, question everything, question all the time, never fear questioning. The march requires vision, a vision for a humane society, a vision to transform brutality into love, a vision to transform appropriation into sharing. The march requires the knowledge and sense, which teach importance of history and heritage, which teach not to wipe out history and not to demolish heritage. The march requires tolerance: give space to others, respect others’ opinions. The march requires love, love not reserved for any particular faction but for the entire humanity. The march requires a dream without limit and with its foundation on reality. Gluing to machines with set rules, thousands those might be, don’t create that required mind, elements and conditions. And, machines have no power to flower love. And, machines have no power to identify contradictions within society and between classes. And, machines have no power to generate arguments in the plane of philosophy. And, machines have no power to generate ideas and concepts. Machines facilitate and help accelerate, sometimes with unimaginable speed, these functions, activities, exercises, and help dissect and analyze. Thence, gluing to these machines, flirting with these tiny lifeless things, don’t create creativity, an essential requirement for building up a new society.

But, the reality is funny: a group of policy makers are hell-bent to introduce these machines. Companies are continuously alluring consumers with the machines. A group of parents and guardians are over-enthusiastic to make their children smart – these machines-savvy. Many educational institutions are not making their students aware of killing kisses of these machines and practices. It will be hard to find any news of discussion meetings on the issue organized by students or youth or cultural organizations. Probably, students and youth organizations don’t consider the issue touching and influencing life and activities of students and youths, and cultural organizations fail to find out any culture in the profiteer-induced game. One group is motivated while another is stupid.                          

Aren’t these two groups aware of child psychology, learning process, requirements for development of young minds, the science of education? Both are aware. Their level and extent of knowledge and awareness of these issues are according to their requirement and capacity to access. One group is smart enough to market their product while the other is happy with their stupidity. Both the groups are content with their smartness. This is the reality requiring a challenge.

Farooque Chowdhury, writing from Dhaka, has not yet authored/edited any book dealing with non-earthly issues, and he does neither operate any blog/web site nor any facebook nor similar accounts.

Jan 30, 2018

Farooque Chowdhury

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