Digital prohibition?
By Jurriaan Kamp, Ode, August 2010

There is no question what’s best for our own fulfillment and for society’s success – our creativity. And it appears that in order to serve that creativity we have to be less online. “Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco recently in The New York Times.

Listen to an in-depth discussion of this topic on Fresh Air.

This article reminds me of my friend Heather, who recently returned from a 10-day silent meditation retreat in Sri Lanka. Participants in the retreat kept their eyes closed for most of the day. No talking, no reading. Just a one hour lecture each day. During meditation, Heather’s mind would keep returning to the same thoughts over and over again. Silly things that just kept cycling back to her, as if the garbage was being cleared out of her brain.

When the 10 days were up and she returned to the outside world, she experienced heightened awareness, experiencing sensations and inputs she had never noticed before. This information is always around us, but we are sure not to notice or learn from them if we are too busy texting or following the latest pings down the rabbit hole.

On one hand, I think online interconnectedness is making us smarter, able to process more complex ideas and expand our empathy to a wider network. On the other hand, I think there’s ever more need for us to rest our minds and concentrate, so we can hope to process all this information. So be brave. Put down the smart phone or tablet. Close the lid on the laptop. See what happens.