A note of Nostalgia

I often say that I am thankful to have had a childhood prior to the boom of smart phones and tablets. I reminisce fondly about my adventures through my Grandmother’s gardens pretending I was an escaped Princess, the parallel Playmobile worlds I would create with my younger brother, and the mini talent contests featuring my Barbies (and my brother’s action man). These are some of my most treasured childhood memories. Days were filled with excitement and magical escapes; uplifting joy found in the simplest places.

This imagination so frequently exercised as a child has arguably carried me through much of my 21 years of life. Through acting as Hermione Granger in a school play, and writing a Christmas song in my Year 6 music class. Right through to writing stories for my English classes in later years, and experimenting with word-play for my Pinterest headings. 

One thing I have noticed more recently, however, is the lack of imagination in my life. Is this due to adult-life stresses? Is it simply the consequence of growing up? Or does it correlate with the rapid rise in technology? 

Imagination birthed technology

singularityhub made an interesting point about how imagination is the very tool that was key in the creation of technology itself. And is now, with its impressive climb in sophistication, providing future generations with more creative jobs than previous years. Therefore, it is arguable that technology was born from imagination, and is now encouraging this in careers through its very existence.

Imagination is, after all, where creative ideas await discovery. Innovation lies in the spaces of pondering and lulls in thought topics. Take Isaac Newton for example, the idea of gravity dawned on him when he was kicking-back under a tree. And something tells me Newton wouldn’t have noticed that apple fall to the ground had he been staring at a smartphone. 

 Quora shared the view that digital technology often serves as a distraction. It is possible that such tech is filling those spaces where imagination would ordinarily drift into play upon a wandering mind. 

Imagination is our survival tool 

Back in 2012, a business journalist named Drew Hanson (forbes.com) conducted an interview with Rita J. King; EVP of Business Development at Science House.

She spoke of the need to prepare for the ‘Imagination Age’, referring to a theoretical period of time in which imagination and creativity will be prime creators of economic value. Ms King proposed that scientists and artists can, onlooking into the future, learn valuable insights from each other. They could, together, develop a more in-depth understanding of reality, as the evolving world complicates it. 

In other words, it is possible that technology, combined with artistic thinking and creativity, could be the recipe for which to best equip us for the future. We also potentially have more power over the way in which this future unravels, as technology may be bringing scientific imaginations to life.  

“In the imagination age, we can collectively imagine and create the future we want to inhabit before we lose that chance”

Imagination created technology, but is technology now diminishing the need for imagination?

On psychologytoday, I came across the name Nicholas Carr. He supposedly pointed out the stimulating effect reading has on the human imagination. 

I was sadly unsurprised to discover that our reading habits are, in recent years, on the decline. Between 2003 and 2006, daily time frame dedicated to reading by the average American went from 0.36 hours, down to 0.26. Considering the take-over of technology in the last 10 years or less, I can imagine this figure has fallen dramatically. Fuelling this suspicion is Bustle, who found that one in four Americans in 2017 did not read a book all year. 

The Written World

Reading allows us to create a world in our own heads with only the colourful descriptions of words to inspire. The writing of these words requires even more fruitful imaginations, and I think J. K. Rowling demonstrated the worlds that can be painted in the deepest corners of the human mind. 

Do you think we are raising any future ‘J. K. Rowling’s in today’s society? Where everything is technological and robotic? Possibly, if some of today’s kids are fighting the norms and picking up books. But somehow my instinct tells me that with the low stimulation of repetitive technologies, on devices that don’t leave much thinking to their user, much of our brain’s colourful activity is becoming dormant.

I’m not talking about the creators of such devices now, because of course the scientists developing these intelligent technologies likely have minds full of innovation. But what about the rest of us? The users. The receptors. We’re just sitting and being spoon fed the innovation through the robots that we hold in our hands. Even Siri can hold a conversation better than some teenagers. (Anti-social Socialising)

Child Mind: loading…

Zoneinworkshops explained how the mind-numbing activities being carried out by children through tech can actually cause brain ‘pruning’ connections to the frontal cortex. 

A child’s mind is, of course, still in the construction process; its development status being consistently on high. Children’s brains are like sponges to new information, but can likewise be prone to drying out if this new information in sparse. If a child’s mind is only being exposed the to mind-numbing, instantaneous nature of tech, their brain circuits will adapt accordingly. 

This means that functions such as critical and creative thinking will be cut out, through the assumption that they are not necessary. Functions such as these are key to learning, as is an active imagination.   

So, I suppose the question is: is technology encouraging our imaginations moving into our future world? Or are imaginations dying as a result of tech’s instantaneous, giving nature?