Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: Breaking the Feedback Loop

Breaking the Feedback Loop Breaking the Feedback Loop by A.N. Turner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was written by a University of Pennsylvania student in his junior year of college. It might be the most important book you will read on the difficulties which face us as a society as we hurl headlong into a life lashed tightly to the internet.

If you have not stopped to thoughtfully consider how your life has been reshaped and leashed to devices and how this is changing who you are at your very core, do it now. Start with this book. I warn you, though. It is disruptive.

Strangely, we will eagerly read about the problems of the past and are often entertained as we read about the potential of the future. However, we are less inclined to critically examine the culture in which we bath ourselves today, right now. I think this is because there is nothing we can do about what has passed or about what has yet to occur. But, we can do something right this minute. We can take some corrective action right now. Inconvenient, right? (I know…)

The author does give many suggestions on how to chip away at our reliance on devices. These suggestions are very doable – setting time limits for checking social media, putting computers and smart phones away in a drawer for X number of hours (or minutes) per day, building slowly toward more independence from them.

I read an article recently which described a looming crisis in our military.

According to the Pentagon, “71 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24, the military's main recruitment source, are ineligible to serve.” That's 24 million of the 34 million people in that age group! Why? To put it bluntly, it is because they are too fat, too dumb or too criminal. Can you guess what the culprit is?

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald writes: “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” This is us. Staring blankly throughout the day and night at our glowing screens, clicking and clicking and clicking and clicking.

The author spends lots of time discussing the devastating effect of internet porn, as he was once addicted himself. More than 30% of the data that travels over the internet every day is porn and that number is growing at a terrifying rate. Predictions are that in a short time, most internet traffic will be porn. It is already the most profitable. Why is this terrifying? As the book discusses in detail, because it cripples – it cripples emotionally, physically, and cognitively. It’s cheap, easy, and everywhere. It is a drug which alters body chemistry. When it is not there, it is craved; when it is obtained, it never, ever fully satisfies. The average age at first exposure to porn is 10. Porn addiction ruins marriages, it ruins the individual’s ability to form normal relationships, and it derails the lives of the boys and youth addicted to it. Consider a young, still-forming brain steeped for hours a day in impersonal, dehumanizing images. Imagine the many ways this will distort and disable for years to come – maybe forever. If your kids have smart phones, they are exposed. Maybe they are even in this fight.

After reading this book, and a few others like it, I knew I could not go back and pretend that spending hours a day online is o.k. It is reducing IQ, it’s sedentary cloak threatens health in multiple ways, and, very possibly, it is delivering the paralyzing poison of porn to every room it enters.

Books like this make us uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable. Yet, doing nothing is not an option.

Wanting to end on an up-note, I place a short reading here. It motivated me to take some action against the Jekyll/Hyde monster I must live with – the internet. I hope it helps you too.

" It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. " *
 *Man in the Arena, Theodore Roosevelt

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment