Global Skywatch

the new world of electronic fantasyland

I almost used the phrase “Brave New World” in my heading but realized it is very much the opposite. These people are retreating from the real world of nature and complete human interactions into an artificial world they find less threatening.

They are exchanging multi-dimensional human interactions with much narrower ones coming through the phone they hold in their hands. A conversation with full-sized humans in a whole world environment are reduced to a tinny speaker on a tiny 2-dimensional screen.

They are also escaping from considering ideas and information composed by authors that challenge readers to think. Physical print media spans cultures and generations of real world human experience. Life, death, success, failure and consequences exist in meat-space. In the pretend world of meta-space, you can be killed several times a day, make a dang fool of yourself or act out fantasies that would get you ostracized – all free of real consequences.

Therein lies one of the biggest problems. You can be anything, do anything and avoid consequences for everything, even what you don’t do. No real challenges. No real failures. And No Real Successes. Hardly a community with a positive future.

Maintaining these non-contributing carbon units is also a drag on their communities. In a free world, they would get hungry, cold, wet or otherwise become aware that they needed to do real, productive things in order to survive. Someone is paying to keep these parasites alive… and it ain’t them.

That they are ripe for any assigned slot in the Brave New World that Aldous Huxley depicted doesn’t bother them and is, of course, perfect for those who would rule a complacent serf class.

Instead of healthy adolescents chatting, playing and working with peers, adults and youngsters, we are now growing a fine crop of dumb kids attached to “smart” phones.

I would be real dang ashamed to lose an intelligence comparison with a 2018 telephone.

US teens swap books for social media, reading drops from 60 to 16 percent in half a century


Researchers are sounding the alarm over US teenagers’ mental health and abilities, as a new study finds they’ve almost completely dropped books for social media. In the 1970s, 60 percent read books and in 2016 – just 16 percent.

One in three US teens fell short of picking up a book or magazine of their own choice in 2016, while spending an average of six hours online, texting and on social media. Smartphones trump not only books, but TV or going to the movies, according to the research, published in the American Journal of Psychology.

The study collected data from the University of Michigan-run survey project ‘Monitoring the Future’, which has been surveying high school students’ trends since 1975. The study also found a staggering increase in social media use among 12-year-olds. In 2008, 52 percent of them said they visited social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram “almost every day.” In 2016, it increased to 82 percent.

Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor and one of the authors of the study, raised concerns over the impact of digital technology on kids.

“Reading long-form texts like books and magazine articles is really important for understanding complex ideas and for developing critical thinking skills,” Twenge said, according the Sydney Morning Herald.

Twenge also wrote a book, the title of which amply explains her feelings on the matter, ‘iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Means for the Rest of Us.’

But it’s not just about kids’ mental abilities, but their mental health as well. Research published last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology collected data from 5,208 individuals and found that Facebook has an overall negative influence on users’ mental health.

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This next one is surprising in that it is a major story at all. I have been seeing this around for a decade. People, and adolescents are the most vulnerable, living in fantasy worlds centered around one or more fantasy games. They talk about them as if they are real; somehow in their minds comparable to interactions with real people in their physical communities.

An obvious question is, “Where are the parents?” The answer is right there in front of us. They retreated from the real world first. In their absence, kids raise themselves, with predictably poor results.

Teenage boy becomes first to be treated on NHS for addiction to online gaming


The 15-year-old son of Kendal Parmar from North London became so addicted to online gaming that he lost confidence in himself and went a whole year without going to school. Ultimately, the teenager spent eight weeks in hospital recovering from his addiction – a UK first.

She described how her family, which includes another four children, has become invisible to her addicted son. “Every moment he’s awake, he wants to be on a game. There is no outside world. It has become all-consuming,” said Parmar, who co-founded Untapped AI, which supports people online in work and at home.

She said her son used to be extremely sociable and excel at school, and had also captained the county rugby and cricket teams. But the game stripped him of his gifted talents.

“I knew it was addictive [at the beginning] when he was online instead of doing his homework. He started to be an addict and avoided the real world,” she recalled.

“He has great mates [in other gamers online] and he is having fun running virtual worlds and non-existent kingdoms but it’s not real. It’s become so real that there’s nothing outside it anymore.”

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