“While we’re on the topic of smart phones, information technology and being digitally connected right now, I just want to ask you to turn off your phone. Don’t just silence it so that it won’t make noise and disturb the rest of us, but turn it completely off. As I’m speaking, I’m likely to say things that arouse your curiosity and prompt you to want to divide your attention and send part of your consciousness out into the Cloud to learn more about what you just heard me say, and while you’re online, you’ll probably want to check your email and take a quick peek at Facebook. You wouldn?t be checking out entirely. A portion of your attention would still be here to monitor what I’m saying… just in case I throw out any more interesting tidbits that you might want to chase down online. This is called multi-tasking, and it is something that our employers, our families, and the various people whom we interact with via social media encourage us to do at all hours of the day.
As repeat C-Realm guest, Bruce Damer explained in his 2004 essay called “A Gigantic Unplanned Experiment… on You”:
[T]he human brain seems to be wired to operate at two speeds: cognitive (fast gear) and emotive (slow gear). You can make logistical calculations in milliseconds and hand-eye coordinated movements in just a little longer. This is what millions of years evolving in trees and then later on the savanna evolved you to be able to do. But emotional and body memory take much longer to sink in, and is slower to be recalled. Recalled emotion and the sense of the body give you all those important intuitive skills for healthy group social behavior, body and spirit health, and connection to other living beings. As we increasingly become creatures of cognition and stimulus-response, emotion and the sense of the body are being factored out of our life equation.
It is a terrible irony that as beings we are perfectly built for this experiment. Brain researchers are only now documenting this two-speed system and tracking the decline of test subjects’ emotional and body memory markers. When people get into states of low emotional and body-sense, and substitute cognitive and speed-sense they enter into a dangerous realm described by these researchers as “emotional neutrality”.
Life in this glorious age of constant connection is always prompting us to shift into that cognitive high gear, but I want to encourage you to voluntarily downshift into the slower, emotive gear. Keep your phone turned off so that reflexively chasing the cognitive rabbits as they spring out of the bushes is not even a possibility. If a passing curiosity arises, just take note of it, and rest assured that you will have ample opportunity later to explore and follow-up on the themes you encounter in this presentation. But for now please don’t direct your consciousness outside of this room. Stay here with me and with these other people who have assembled here.
Having accesses to that great storehouse of information we call the Internet is the normal condition in your life. Sharing an experience with this particular group of people who are physically assembled in this room with you right now is a more precious opportunity than is the opportunity to go online and follow whatever passing curiosity is beckoning you to shift back into that multi-tasking high gear. And if you feel uncomfortable at the prospect of disconnecting because you fear missing some vitally important communication in the very short time that I’m asking you to be present here in this place with these people, pay attention to that anxiety, because it’s telling you something very important about the changes this technology has made to your nervous system. But please join me in turning off the digital devices.”