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Our Velocity

Posted by Natalie in Technology - 29 December 2011

Or how I learned to stop worrying about social media and up my game.

Yesterday I had a headache that felt like Twitter. It was, in fact, merely a symptom of caffeine withdrawal: dilated blood vessels in the brain and over-sensitive receptors flailing furiously for their next fix. Thankfully, I’m fine now, but Twitter is still here, and it seems it’ll take more than a cup of coffee to silence this particular neurological cacophony.

2011 was the year that Twitter stole my brain. Since signing up it’s slowly dawned on me that I’ve entered into some Faustian pact, wherein I’ve exchanged access to endless information for my ability to digest it. I can’t say for sure that social media is responsible for the gradual erosion of my soul – that might be a bit extreme – and I don’t even know what I believe about how or whether it is changing our brains. Maybe I haven’t been able to concentrate for long enough to come to a conclusion, but I’ve definitely noticed some changes in my behaviour, many of which are outlined in Assisted Living Today’s excellent infographic, which you can check out below (if you’re still focused enough to bother).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to kill off my online identities and join the Luddites. We should be celebrating that we’re clever enough to invent and use these new technologies so intuitively. It’s no coincidence that 2011 was also the year that people used social media to shake up the established world order.  What’s more, we adapt so well to this new online environment. Surely, if readers’ concentration wanes, writers have to up their game (really hope you’re still with me). I’m sure I’ve read more than three articles from start to finish over the past 12 months, but these are the most memorable, and for very different reasons.

Slow Travel Berlin’s interview with Ewan Pearson was captivating because of the thoughtful questions and intelligent responses, covering complex topics with rare insight and sensitivity.  Pearson’s comments on gentrification and the new xenophobia have stayed with me and clarified somewhat my confusion about the topic: “…A lot of the rhetoric coming from the more anarcho-left seems uncomfortably close to that of the nastier bits of the old-school right: anger at tourists, foreigners and people who are not from Berlin. It’s pretty unpleasant.”

Okay, this is a pretty predictable and voyeuristic choice, but it kept me glued to my screen like little else. Eyes wide, heart in mouth, I read Popular Mechanics’ What really happened aboard Air France 447. I’ll say no more, except that – for all the wrong reasons – it did help solidify my ongoing boycott of the airline industry.

Talking of which, Grist’s ‘Brutal logic’ and climate communications honed a hugely complicated subject into the most comprehensive and logical argument I’ve yet read on climate change discourse.  I won’t paraphrase because the article is worth a full read to see how author David Roberts reaches the conclusion that “everyone… no matter what role they play, could stand to push the edge a little bit occasionally, reminding their audience, whatever audience, that climate change is some genuinely dire sh*t and that now is the time for ambition and courage.”

To an ambitious and courageous 2012!

How Social Media is Ruining Our Minds Infographic

Infographic by Assisted Living Today – Assisted Living Facilities

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