Is Big Data Tech Drowning the Mind???

I’ll start with a metaphor. In the massive-ever-churning sea of media, internet, Facebook,  Google, Twitter, etc., data infusions-profusions-confusions-celeb/politico intrusions — some are drowning, trying to tread and keep their heads up — while others make it back to shore and feel their own whole bodies in the sun and  stride strongly their own footprints in the sand. Often, those struggling to keep their heads up turn to drugs, smoking, liquor, excessive tattooing, sexual excesses, and celeb mimicry. — At 84, I’m no teenager or millennial — and not one tattoo.  But I got an iPhone a few months ago and for the first time invaded, with some participation, the world of Facebook. I’m a writer– so I am into data and research all the time. But the addition of Facebook took me face-to-face with a different reality. Very soon, I began to detect a problem. It was too much. I was being invaded. I felt my own mind  (which I usually have fairly good control of ) being — manipulated-seduced-challenged to perform in ways I wasn’t “into”- but required —- demanding that I contribute  as others.  I was developing an anxiety mix of inadequacy since I’ve other things to do.  Call it Peer Pressure to Perform. I kept finding myself finding my way back to the shore. (My little poem “Simply Me, Today” comes from this.) Granted, I’m also data-filled by multitudinous entries in inbox&junkbox on my computer— on iPhone, too. I don’t think I’m much different from others — when I say I’m sometimes overwhelmed to an anxious state by it all. Behold! I’m still strong enough to put the phone down and shut it off at will. Yay! (Surely, I’m strange, though. Don’t even have cable TV.)


The world-mind is comprehending the invasive-manipulation of this technology. Recent reportage from the American Psychological Association says the stats show a “huge spike-record high” increase in millennials of anxiety-suicide-anorexia-depression—ASAD (my term). Business Insider’s reviewer called it “pressure to be perfect….an obsession with perfection.” The Psychiatrist Richard A. Freidman wrote a NYT article, 9/9/18 — “Teenagers Aren’t Losing Their Minds.” He addressed the growing concern that this technology is re-wiring their minds to become addictive to it. He said there is little data that the mind is being changed by digital technology — the way it is by addictive drugs. He concludes — “So don’t assume that there’s something wrong with your kid every time he’s anxious or upset. Our teenagers—and their brains—are up to the challenges of modern life.”  He’s missing a point, it seems to me, that the above –“pressure-obsession” to be as good as others seem to be — is the strained-to-perform anxiety that the kid feels, and is, therefore, prone to ASAD. This seems different than the clinical pathology of anxiety disorder and our everyday kind of normal anxiety. Freidman only considered these two. There is a third anxiety state induced by digital tech. I think the above conclusion — an obsession with perfection — is tracking it. I call it Peer Pressure to Perform — which entails an “addictive” search to be digitally adequate and up-to-date.  It calls for increased discipline and self-control. There is much good on Facebook and phones. Not all is good. It is constantly challenging and demanding. Normal anxiety doesn’t grab the reality that this digital age pressures an overflow of anxieties. Not only teenagers and millennials, but the adult world as well.  Freidman says it’s “science fiction” that young brains are being rewired. How about being “over-programed” on the same wires?  It’s not just the “tech” it’s the human content and its ever-constant delivery. It’s cyberbullying become cyberdrowing. Splashings! So many cyber-names. It is not going away. Some won’t make it back to shore. Most will. Some who struggle might make it — with the right guidance to self-control in the ever rising sea of this drown of digitalized data. CBD is now OTC available. This Cannabidiol, cousin of marijuana, promises no “high”– but a rescue for anxiety. This development will give the world of psychology much to research and ponder. Today may be a lower case “angst,” with its anxiety-apprehensions-insecurity. But upper ANGST rides on the con-fusions of complexity, which are bound to increase. Ahh! The whole world seeks the shore. To feel one’s own feet in the sand and going somewhere, head held high — focus and hands free — is good for balance and sense of direction. —mdok