The Spinning Coin #edcmooc

spinning coin

Image courtesy – By Neolexx [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The battle royale between Utopia and Dystopia has been raging for centuries, but what is surprising is that neither side seems to be winning or losing. And at the same time, it also symbolizes the age-old co-existence of opposites. Something like the good co-existing with the bad, believers with non-believers, heroes with villains. In one of my earlier posts I have already referred to this co-existence as what I perceive to be the two sides of the same coin. A spinning coin, perhaps, that keeps changing the side that it presents to us ?

Like everything else in life, our attitude towards technology is a matter of our perception. Our perceptions shape and define us. Our perceptions also dictate our actions. How we perceive something is based on our past experiences. One of the theories of inter-personal communication states that our past experiences act as our mental filters. We tend to view everything that we encounter through these filters in our minds. The same article by R V Lesikar also states that  that no two living beings have identical mental filters, because we are all unique and our experiences in life are different. Even twins born to the same parents . These filters are made up of Beliefs, Assumptions, Values, Ideas, Expectations & Personal history.

Why, then should it be surprising that we have such varied viewpoints on everything, including technology and its effect on us humans. Utopia and Dystopia, in my view, are nothing but two conflicting perceptions – a result of our perceptions, sieved through our mental filters. One man’s utopia may be another man’s dystopia. And this is a coin that will always keep spinning.

I am enamoured with technology and the vast possibilities that it offers, but at the same time I have nothing against someone who views technology as evil, or as a threat. Each to his own. Personally, I have experienced a complete transformation of myself as an individual and as a professional over the years, and I attribute a lot of it to the internet, technology and computers. I have also learned over the years how to become a responsible computer user and not get addicted to technology.

I have been reading a lot about the adverse effects of technology, and lately, thanks to EDCMOOC, about technological determinism. And yet I am not convinced that the internet or technology is bad for us. We have been hearing talk of how the internet, for example, is rewiring our brains, but that has not deterred me from using the internet in my own quest for knowledge.

While doing a search on being human earlier today, I stumbled upon this article that perhaps echoes my own views on the internet :

BBC “Neurohacks” writer Tom Stafford explains:

There is no magic extra risk from the internet. Like TV before it, and reading before that, it gives us a way of practicing certain things. Practice will change our brains, just like any habit. The important thing is that we are part of this process, it is not just something that happens to us. You can decide how much time you want to put into finding pictures of funny cats, bantering on Facebook or fitting your thoughts into 140 characters. There will be no sudden damage done to your brain, or great surprises for your brain fitness. You would be a fool to think that the internet will provide all the exercise your brain needs, but you would also be a fool to pass up the opportunities it offers. And those pictures of funny cats.

I have absolutely no issues if you, the reader, would like to disagree with me on this. After all, it is disagreements and a clash of individual views that coaxes us to learn more – to improve our knowledge. And let us not forget, my friend, you may be looking at the other side of the same coin. Chances are, that sooner or later, I might see it too.

But until that happens, let us learn to coexist peacefully and debate our differences, rather than debunking each others’ views. That is the essence of being human.

3 Comments:

  1. Very thoughtful…thanks. The only aspect that may be missing (although maybe inferred) is no recognition that the “mental filters” may well be less of the conscious mind and more of the subconscious, as some of this weeks reading suggest.

    • Thank you, Bill, for your feedback. Yes you are absolutely correct when you say that the mental filters are active less in the conscious mind and more in the subconscious. Actually, I did not go too deep into this topic because mental filters that shape our perceptions are a huge subject by themselves. A lot of our perceptions are experience-based, though we do not realize it. And they are culturally determined as well. For example, someone who has grown up in a strictly controlled environment where technology was taboo and indeed frowned upon, let’s say for the sake of example, in Afghanistan, would have a different perception of technology as compared to someone who has been exposed to technology right from the beginning, for example someone brought up in the Western world in a developed country.

      While the first example may view technology with distrust, because that is the side of the coin that he has always looked at, the other one may consider technology as a boon, even taken for granted.

      And yes, it is a subconscious process. Thanks again for highlighting this fact.

  2. Pingback: Technology In Education – My Digital Artefact For #edcmooc | The MOOCs Explorer

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