Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2011 9 Shevat, 5771

Changing How We Think

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | We mourn, we weep, we wonder why. How could such things happen? Smart phones and online libraries constantly feed us information, but we don't get any wiser. We blame others for what goes wrong and for what we don't fully understand.

Pundits argue and provoke, pretending to seek wisdom from the dialectic, but they're merely in love with the sound of their own voices. Jeremiahs predict the worst, Pollyannas foresee a rosy future, and the ostrich buries his head in the sand (where insights as wise as any other may lurk).

But death happens. Terrible murders persist. Madness goes unstopped, though not undetected.

At first we listened to arguments that the political culture produced Jared Loughner. Never have so many metaphors banged together to such noisy futility. The motor-mouths who blamed their ideological opposites have quieted down, if only a little, now that it's clear that the shooter was crazy. His own scrambled grammar, now playing in the videos he produced himself, is the stuff of hallucination, delusion and split-off reality.

The misfiring wacky wires in his brain have rendered all the political pontification shallow and particularly malicious. His self-described "best friend" told reporters: "He did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn't listen to political radio. He didn't take sides. He wasn't on the left. He wasn't on the right."

The sound and fury that accompanied impotent political rage ought to give us pause. After every public tragedy we seek quick public solutions when what we need is thoughtful reflection. Reflection is harder when real time is measured by computer and warp speed becomes value without content.

A provocative new book asks, "Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?" We get answers, or rather speculations, from an eclectic group of scientists and philosophers, described as being at the "frontier" of their fields in such areas as biology, genetics, psychology, physics, neurophysiology and computer engineering. The answers are yes, no and maybe, but they do provoke thought. After considering their arguments, it's hard not to conclude that the Internet may not change the way we think, but it has already changed the way we react. There's a difference.

Speed, a process empty of meaning, has jumped to our highest value. Newspapers once competed to get the first EXTRA! on the street in the wake of great tragedy, and now seek speedier technology to get sensation on computer screens. Editors have only to hit the "send" button, and millions devour the digital word. Ubiquitous cable-TV shouters deliver the "news" without even a pretense of fact-checking. Bloggers make up their own facts. Transcripts of television interviews reveal disorderly ideas put together in unstructured sentences. Opinions fly fast and loose. Very loose.

Nigel Goldenfeld, a physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, cites as the greatest change in the interaction of human and Internet the "talk back" factor. He tells how you can fill a wiki page with complete nonsense and wait a few hours, and it comes back to you in "fits of righteous indignation." This may save certain educated researchers the trouble of repeating random trial and error experiments, but for ordinary citizens it often produces only chaos of outrage, a phenomenon that one science-fiction author calls a thumb "permanently on the fast-forward button."

Life in the fleet-footed lane is overwrought with the hyped-up use of the present tense that lends urgency, but the reactions quickly become past tense and then trash. In drawing on adrenalin-generated argument, the nervous system feels speeded up, too.

"The Internet makes me mean," says Douglas Rushkoff, a media analyst. "Resentful. Short-fused. Reactionary. It's as if the relentless demand of the networks for me to be everywhere, all the time, was denying me access to the moment in which I am really living."

He's not alone complaining that the content of life in the Age of the Internet, cable and blogs becomes a superficial horizontal movement, or process, rather than a reach for understanding. A new biography of Marshall McLuhan, by Douglas Coupland, demonstrates how the "media guru" of the 1960s was prescient even before the Internet, identifying the dangerous elements in expanding mass media. His famous aphorism, "the medium is the message," was fraught with ominous overtones that are often overlooked.

"We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us," he wrote. He worried that we would become more "savage" and "impatient" with each other as we basked in the illusion of being closer together: "The global village is a place of very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations."

We wish that we could rewind the tape. But in our powerlessness to bring back the dead in Tucson, we can reflect on how to prevent more tragedy. That will take time. For starters, we could lift a thumb off the fast-forward button and treat ourselves to a pause.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on JWR contributor Suzanne Fields' column by clicking here.

Up

Suzanne Fields Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles