“Embracing the human in a world of robots”

Courtesy of RT:  © Donald Iain Smith © Getty Images

While I know this compelling and persuasive 9-19 University World News article is about the value of the humanities in a world of technology, preaching to the choir, in my case and that of many other readers, I couldn’t help but think of the millions of human beings who are made of flesh and blood yet act like robots at considerable cost to their mental and spiritual health.  

For example, those for whom technology in the form of smartphone and other Internet-ready devices is but an extension of their very being.  Countless hours spent mindlessly scrolling looking for only God knows what.  Add Internet addiction to the already formidable list of addictions that debase and devalue the human experience.  As I’m fond of saying, our life is a one-time deposit and each day is a withdrawal.  Tick-tock.  

There is even a mental health problem known as Internet addiction disorder (IAD), defined as “problematic, compulsive use of the internet, that results in significant impairment in an individual’s function in various life domains over a prolonged period of time.”

The recognition of this problem is the main reason why Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, a bestselling book by Cal Newport, a Georgetown University computer science professor, has resonated so powerfully.  (Cal’s book is being translated into Vietnamese, by the way, which is good news for a country that has jumped on the Internet bandwagon in overly grand fashion and where a smartphone is nearly everyone’s buddy, including children who would be better off reading books, exercising, and playing.)  

Nationalism Means You Don’t Have to Engage in Critical Thinking

Then there are the nationalist automatons who believe – by dictionary definition – that their country is the best of world, ignoring the obvious fact that every country has its own greatness, along with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.  In the US, where this “ism” is one of the greatest challenges facing that country (sorry, it’s not DJT who is but a symptom of a broader societal disease), at least a simple majority of its citizens walk in lockstep continuing to live in a fantasy world and embrace this dangerous mythology, blinders on, oblivious to all the problems and crises in their midst because they’ve been socialized, indoctrinated, and brainwashed to believe that their country is “the greatest nation on Earth,” ample evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.  As the saying goes, the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.   

How Do You Define Success?

What about those who obediently do what they’re told and pursue shallow conventional definitions of success, e.g., personal wealth, while sacrificing their own personal happiness and humanity in the process? As Peter Eagle Sims mentioned in a 24.11.19 article entitled Elite Universities Are Breeding Grounds for Insecure Overachievers “…Widespread cultural definitions of “success” — mostly centered around money — have almost no correlation to fulfillment and well-being.”  Or the religious fundamentalists who believe they have a monopoly on the truth and God’s favor?   The list goes on and on.  Human energy misguided and potential unrealized, to say the least.    

Shalom (שלום), MAA