By Patricia Burke of Safe Tech International, images courtesy Jessica McGovern
Let’s be clear, those impacted by the fires in Hawaii, floods in Vermont or winter blizzards in Maine are not expressing gratitude that 5G telecommunications provides the promise of connected cars, virtual and augmented reality, smart cities, remote surgery, or beating China in the race to 5G.
Has telecommunications exceeded any possible sweet spot of usefulness and balance, veering into absurd as well as grotesque expressions of imbalance and harm?
From the perspectives of lack of embodied learning in infants, loss of navigation ability, and even disconnected plant identification practices, many believe that it is time for a reappraisal and course correction regarding tech.
Awareness has dawned for many that it is time to move away from the trajectory of increased reliance on technology and instant gratification, and to reclaim lost, overlooked, and devalued potentials of human development, including embracing presence, patience, right timing, human rights, and reverence for natural law.
The mirage that tech is creating freedom and liberation is being replaced with an understanding that it is actually enslaving, and regressive. And that it includes slavery.
Screen Use in Infants and Children
An “Original Investigation Adolescent Mental Health” was published by JAMA August 21, 2023 by Japanese researchers, entitled “Screen Time at Age 1 Year and Communication and Problem-Solving Developmental Delay at 2 and 4 Years.”
“Screen time is the amount of time that individuals spend watching television, playing video games, and using mobile phones, tablets, and other electronic devices….
MSN reported, “Between one and four hours of screen time per day for children under 1 year old is linked to higher risks of developmental delays in communication, fine motor, problem-solving, and personal and social skills by age 2, researchers found….
Those who had more than four hours of screen time were the most likely to have developmental delays in all four categories by age 2 and were more likely to have continued delays in both communication and problem-solving skills by age 4.”
These outcomes include communication,7,8 daily living skills,7 socialization,7 gross and fine motor skills,8 problem-solving skills,8 personal and social skills,8 developmental screening test total scores,9 cognitive development,10,11 socioemotional development,9 language development,11–13 attention problems,14 behavioral problems,15,16 and developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder.17,18″
Are the delays translating into regression across the lifespan?
A Solution: More Diversity in Full Bodied Learning with All of the Senses, Less Tech and Screentime, for All Ages
Cell Phone Navigation – Dependence or Independence?
A few years back, navigation satellites were not working for the Boston area. A friend’s daughter called from her cell phone because she did not know how to drive from the city to Cape Ann, even though she had been traveling the route for several years.
Whereas humans relied on their own internal navigation abilities for thousands of years, including the magnetic sense that forms the basis of dowsing, during the technocratic age, these capabilities have been outsourced. The sensory systems available to humans are not being cultivated and refined. Instead of absorbing information about cues for time-space coordination from all of the senses, many tech-connected humans have unquestioningly habitually reduced their vision field to the size of a screen, diminishing eye function itself, as well as impacting cognition and brain development.
In 2016, Nature reported, “Technology: Use or lose our navigation skills.” “Newspapers regularly pick up ‘satnav’ disaster stories — such as a lorry bound for the Mediterranean that arrived at Gibraltar Point near Skegness in the United Kingdom. A sense of direction, a sense of scale and a map are essential. And knowledge of where you want to go also helps.” “We should make better use of our innate capabilities. Machines know where they are, not the best way to get to a destination; it might be more reliable to employ a human driver than to program an autonomous car to avert crashes. If we do not cherish them, our natural navigation abilities will deteriorate as we rely ever more on smart devices.” “Drivers in a simulator who follow satellite-navigation instructions find it more difficult to work out where they have been than those who use maps. Instructed drivers also fail to notice that they have been led past the same point twice. Mountain-rescue teams are tired of searching for people with drained smartphone batteries, no sense of direction and no paper map.”
A Solution: Travel and Explore with Maps and Map Reading and Human Consciousness
What Plant is That?
Last week, I was walking to the beach with friends. As we traveled along the seawall, a blanket of clusters of yellow flowers was in bloom. None of us knew what it was.
There are at least five ways that we could have connected with the plant’s energy: via an app on a cell phone; later in time via a plant guide book; later in time via a search on the internet; in person from a mentor or teacher; and/ or by seeking to establish a direct intuitive relationship with the plant itself (Indigenous / Native American)
Discernment lies between knowing what the plant is vs. knowing the plant.
The individual who looks up the plant via an app is exerting no energy or consciousness in learning about the plant, or learning how to learn, and accesses immediate gratification in the form of information, which is not knowledge or wisdom.
The practice of humans carrying around an instantaneous dopamine delivery system is ushering unprecedented numbers of individuals into addiction, including children.
In contrast, looking up the plant at a later point in time in a guidebook or on the internet involves delayed gratification and the power of observation. For example, how many stalks or stems, how many petals, how many blooms?
The online resource “The Spruce” explains, “Tansy has three to six vertical stems that are brown to reddish-brown or purplish-red at the base. The plant has green, fern-like or feathery alternate leaves. When crushed, the leaves give off a pungent camphor-like odor, which makes it easy to identify the plant. The heavily scented leaves of common tansy act as insect repellent so the plant is not vulnerable to pests or disease–another factor that favors its survival and uncontrolled spreading.”” The leaves of the common tansy are toxic to humans, cows, and horses.”
I carried the image of the plant with me for ten days before I had a chance to learn its name. I am grateful for the time we traveled together.
Emerge and See – Slavery
Emergency notification systems could be different. For decades, rather than sending an individual notification to individuals on an individual cell phone or other device that may or may not be in the vicinity of an individual’s hearing range, communities historically relied on single use alarms and warning signs audible for miles that only consumed resources when manufactured and activated, and were not subject to hacking.
In his article about Navigation for Nature, Roger McKinley wrote, “First, we must recognize that digital navigation tools do not come for free. They rely on expensive infrastructure — satellites or ground stations — that governments have to pay for.”
Governments are not the only ones paying for the infrastructure.
In an article published by Wired, “The Dark History ‘Oppenheimer’ Didn’t Show”, Ngofeen Mputubwele wrote,
“Even before our current rush to transition to non-fossil-fuel electricity, minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been powering our modern lifestyles. Cobalt provides essential components for lithium-ion batteries—the ones in cell phones, computers, and the increasingly ubiquitous EVs—and most of the cobalt for these devices comes from Congo. But even that’s not the first such rush on the country’s buried resources turned modern treasures.
In the late 1930s, when the process of nuclear fission was developed, physicists used uranium, which turned the element that humans had no use for into a coveted one. And because those scientific discoveries happened just before World War II, harnessing the power of splitting atoms became a matter of global security. Then as today, Congolese people were the overworked, manipulated, and terrorized miners doing the dangerous work at the center of modern advancements.
Ngofeen Mputubwele tells their story—one that wasn’t (explicitly) depicted in this summer’s blockbuster Oppenheimer. As he watched the film, Mputubwele writes, “I kept seeing what was missing: Black miners hauling earth and stone to sort piles of radioactive ore by hand.” The point isn’t to add a little-known footnote, but rather to counter the belief that Congolese are “ancillary to modern life.” They were the “essential ingredient, the sine qua non, of arguably the most consequential creation in modern history.”
My friend uses cookbooks, maps, a corded phone and internet, does not stream music in her vehicle or elsewhere, grows flowers and food, and loves life with all of her senses. She reflects on every aspect of her tech footprint and makes choices that liberate her from dependence, control. privacy invasion, and fear. She is free.
I seek to live in a life where I can learn the name of a plant without supporting or contributing to slavery or military dominance.
The current sustainable/clean energy paradigm perpetuates the sordid history of the United States regarding slavery and exploitation, including mining, and offers me no solace or path to redemption. Technology/technocracy is out of integrity with the greater good. Every community emergency mandate “to electrify everything” and to address “carbon emissions” is a regressive, blinded, growth-fueled justification for increased violence elsewhere.
Not all ideas are good ideas and not all tech innovations are progressive, safe, reasonable, or justified.
Despite the momentum of the mass consumer culture, many individuals are ahead of the curve…holding themselves accountable, individually, to reducing their seemingly invisible, yet consequential tech footprints, especially in regard to the unnecessary use of wireless.
Change is coming.
Recommended reading: Why I don’t consider climate change our root problem— and I’d welcome economies that recognize limits to growth and Could we make questioning technology…common? by Katie Singer
Read also: “We cannot ignore the dangers of radiation in our national parks” by Dr. Devra Davis, President of Environmental Health Trust. “The Connect Our Parks Act is only one of the numerous bills moving through U.S. Congress which would allow the proliferation of wireless in natural ecologically sensitive areas.”
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