In an age of powerful media devices at our fingertips all day long, are our reflective abilities being undermined?
Teddy Wayne posts this question in his article “The End of Reflection.” Here is a summary of his thoughts which I call the Google Mind (functioning in an age of powerful media devices) and the Contemplative Mind (reflective thinking).
Let’s take a look at what we may be creating in the 21st century – the advent of the Google Mind.
- Information at our finger tips
- Answering closed-ended questions quickly
- Immediate gratification from external stimuli
- Emphasis on images sidelining the role of language, e.g., Instagram
- Brevity – texting and tweets
- Rewarding speed and velocity
- Becoming “less patient when moments without stimulation arise and we start to feel panicked and don’t know what to do without them because we’ve trained ourselves to expect this stimulation.”
Let’s take a look at what is meant by the Contemplative Mind.
- Thinking about thinking.
- Reflecting on open-ended questions
- Allowing the mind to go where a thought leads
- Carefully weighed judgments
- Deliberative thought (marinating)
- Taking time to reflect and ponder
- Rewarding reflection and testing of options
- Valuing quiet time for writing, reading, and thinking
I’m not suggesting we choose one mind over the other. I’ve experienced the value of both. But what Wayne cautions is that Contemplative Mind thinking “isn’t as important anymore. It’s viewed as inefficient.”
I recall seeing Auguste Rodin’s inspirational sculpture “The Thinker” in Paris. The sculpture represents the highest form of contemplation – deep thought, imposing, and not bothered by distractions. You are drawn to its serene and internal characterization of contemplation. Now, as Wayne suggests, imagine a sculpture called “The Tweeter.” Would it be as inspirational?